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Manisha asked: What is at stake for India in the South China Sea? What has been India's stand in that conflict so far?

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  • S.S. Parmar replies: India’s stakes in the South China Sea can be viewed as economic and diplomatic. Both these aspects impinge on India’s ‘Look East Policy’. The economic factor is driven by the presence of energy resources and trade that plies between India and the nations in the region. The energy factor is significant given the reported energy potential of the region. Diplomatically India would like to be seen as a responsible growing power that advocates healthy relations between nations, thereby ensuring a secure regional architecture wherein nations settle their differences amicably. In standing with this approach, India has adopted a neutral stance, and has requested nations to sort out their differences peacefully. India has further requested the nations to establish a code of conduct that would ensure ‘freedom of navigation’ and ‘access to resources’. On May 10, 2012, the MEA, while responding to a media query on recent developments in the South China Sea, had stated:

    “We have been following with concern recent developments involving China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Maintenance of peace and security in the region is of vital interest to the international community. India urges both countries to exercise restraint and resolve the issue diplomatically according to principles of international law.”

    Therefore, India continues to engage nations of the region that is in standing with its ‘Look East Policy’. An example is the recent deployment of four naval ships in the region and the conduct of exercises with the navies of South Korea, Japan and even China.