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Arun Raj Asked : What constitute China's ‘core interests’, and what are its implications for India’s relationship with Southeast Asia?

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  • Udai Bhanu Singh replies: China initially qualified its rise as “peaceful rise”. This was given the lie as the notion of “core interest” increasingly entered its policy discourse and gained currency. At first, China limited its use of the idea of “core interest” to Taiwan. Then it was extended to include the troubled regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. It could be said that till this point, the Chinese assertiveness did not impinge on the Southeast Asian States directly. When in March 2010 China began referring to South China Sea as its “core interest”, the maritime interests of the Southeast Asian claimant states like Vietnam and the Philippines were directly affected. Later in May 2013, Chinese “core interest” further expanded to include Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands) and surrounding parts of the East China Sea.

    On the one hand, Vietnam and Philippines were subjected to Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, and on the other, India faced a stand-off in Ladakh. India supports resolution of maritime disputes in a peaceful manner and better adherence to international law, freedom of navigation and an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct. In doing so, India seeks a coordinated approach in the various regional and international multilateral fora.