New Delhi: Close on the heels of a United Nations-backed tribunal’s verdict invalidating China’s vast claims in the South China Sea, a senior officer of the Indian Navy has said that the country is prepared to help other Asian nations in case of breach of their maritime security.
Rear Admiral SV Bhokare, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet (FOCEF), was quoted by Indian Defence News as saying that though India was in favour of peace, it would still help other countries if they are in trouble.
“If any country wants our help in maritime security and humanitarian relief, we will come forward,” Admiral Bhokare said during a four-day port call at Port Klang in Malaysia.
Three Indian naval ships – Sahyadri, Shakti and Kirch – are in Malaysia to take part in joint exercises with the Royal Malaysian Navy. Amid rising tensions in the South China Sea following the verdict by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Admiral Bhokare said India was ready for any unforeseen situation.
“When our ships sail out, it means we are ready to attack anyone who attacks us,” he was quoted as saying. China, angered by the verdict, has vowed to take all necessary measures to protect its sovereignty over the South China Sea and said it had the right to set up an air defence zone, after rejecting the international tribunal’s ruling denying its claims to the energy-rich waters.
Chinese state media called the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague a “puppet” of external forces after it ruled that China had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights by endangering its ships and fishing and oil projects.
Beijing has repeatedly blamed the United States for stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, where its territorial claims overlap in parts with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
China has, meanwhile, insisted that it has India’s support over the international tribunal verdict, despite India’s statements to the contrary. India has stated clearly that it recognises the verdict of the tribunal which was set up within the jurisdiction of the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which must be given the “utmost respect”.
“For us, this is not an issue of being in favour or against any particular country. It is about the use of the global commons,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said.