But regional sources say China and India actually are heading for a confrontation that could result in military clashes from the South China Sea to their Himalayan borders.
The reason for this growing concern is the escalating military brinkmanship China is displaying as it begins to resort to armed force and coercion against less powerful South East Asian neighbors, such as Vietnam and the Philippines.
“Asian security as a whole today stands endangered by China’s military adventurism not only in the South China Sea against Vietnam and the Philippines, but extending to the Himalayan Borders of India with China – Occupied Tibet,” said Dr. Subhash Kapila of the think-tank South Asia Analysis Group.
“Chinese military adventurism to reinforce its sovereignty over disputed borders is by now a well-established pattern,” he said.
With China asserting domain over the South China Sea, India is making it increasingly clear that it also has a legitimate strategic interest in the region.
Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony recently expressed concerns over China’s South China Sea region actions in pointing out that there should be freedom of navigation as outlined in numerous United Nations conventions.
In addition, he said that India, like China, has commercial interests that need to be resolved according to U.N. laws.
Antony said protection of the sea lanes is becoming increasingly important and that economic development, trade and commerce depend on their security.
The sea lanes of communication to which the defense minister referred run right through the South China Sea in one of the most commercially active parts of the world.
India’s assertion of freedom of navigation is in keeping with international law and the understanding that the South China Sea is a “global heritage” to all countries involved.
In asserting various U.N. laws, the defense minister says India opposes China’s rigid position that the South China Sea disputes will be resolved only through bilateral negotiations with other countries that dispute China’s position.
“This is simply because in a bilateral process China can bring to bear its awesome military coercion in play against small countries like Vietnam and the Philippines,” Kapila said.
China has expressed increasing concern with India’s partnerships in maritime exploration for vital energy sources, since it, like China, has growing energy requirements and needs to import much of its energy and find new energy sources.
China continues to assert that such activities by all neighboring countries, including India’s involvement with Vietnam, are in disputed waters. However, Kapila said that such an assertion is wrong and that China is claiming all of the South China Sea as being in its domain.
Consequently, Kapila asserts, India needs to consider itself as a legitimate stakeholder in the security and stability of the South China Sea.
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