India Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi said India would protect its interests even if it means sending forces in the West Philippine Sea
Singapore concerned over China's West Philippine Sea rule
Dec 3, 2012 (Reuters) - Singapore expressed concern on Monday over China's plan to board and search ships sailing in what it considers its territory in the West Philippine Sea, as tension grows over Beijing's sovereignty claims in busy Southeast Asian waters.
"Singapore is concerned about this recent turn of events," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in response to a recent Chinese media report on new rules that will allow police in the southern Chinese province of Hainan to board and seize control of foreign ships which "illegally enter" its waters from Jan. 1.
Wealthy Singapore, home to the world's second-busiest container port, is the second Southeast Asian country to publicly express concern over the new rules after the Philippines on Saturday condemned the Chinese plan as illegal.
The issue divided Southeast Asian leaders at a summit last month in Phnom Penh, where host Cambodia, a staunch China ally, sought to limit discussion on the mineral-rich sea, where China's claims overlap in places with those of four Southeast Asian countries and of Taiwan.
Tension over the West Philippine Sea, home to a third of the world's shipping activity, is entering a new and more contentious chapter, as claimant nations build up their navies and alliances with other nations, particularly with the United States.
"We urge all parties to the territorial disputes in the West Philippines Sea to refrain from provocative behaviour," the Singapore government said in a statement.
"It is important for all parties to respect the accepted principles of international law ... and refrain from taking actions that could escalate tensions."
China's sovereignty claims over the stretch of water off its south coast and to the east of mainland Southeast Asia set it directly against U.S. allies Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts.
The tensions illustrate the difficulty of forging a Southeast Asian consensus over how to deal with an increasingly assertive China.
Estimates for proven and undiscovered oil reserves in the West Philippine Sea range as high as 213 billion barrels of oil, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a 2008 report. That would surpass every country's proven oil reserves except Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, according to the BP Statistical Review.
Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said on Friday the Chinese plan was a "very serious turn of events".
India will protects its interests in West Philippine Sea, says Navy chief
New Delhi: Viewing the rapid modernisation of Chinese Navy as a "major concern", Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi on Monday made it clear that India would protect its interests in the disputed West Philippine Sea, even if it means sending forces there.
"Yes you are right. The modernisation (of Chinese Navy) is truly impressive... It is actually a major cause of concern for us, which we continuously evaluate and work out our options and our strategies," he told a press conference.
The Navy Chief was replying to a question on contingencies in West Philippine Sea to protect Indian interests there and impression about the Chinese Navy's modernisation.
Answering a volley of questions about West Philippine Sea over which India had a tiff with China in 2011, he said although India's presence in that maritime region was not on "very very frequent" basis, it had interests like free navigation and exploitation of natural resources there.
"Not that we expect to be in those waters very very frequently, but when the requirement is there for situations where country's interests are involved, for example ONGC Videsh, we will be required to go there and we are prepared for that. Are we holding exercises for that nature, the short answer is yes," Joshi said.
Talking about Indian interests in the West Philippine Sea, he said the first of it included freedom of navigation.
"Not only us, but everyone is of the view that they have to be resolved by the parties concerned, aligned with the international regime, which is outlined in UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), that is our first requirement," he said.