South China Sea patrols bring no benefit to India

By Long Xingchun
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Global Times, February 29, 2016
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A Reuters exclusive published earlier this month suggested that the US and India had talked about launching joint naval patrols in the South China Sea in the name of safeguarding freedom of navigation. But India's Ministry of External Affairs clarified there would be no such patrols and the US subsequently denied the plan. Most opinions attribute New Delhi's refusal to its dismay over Washington's approval of the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. However, the fact is probably that India has no intention to participate in the US-proposed South China Sea patrols, which in no way conform to its national interest.

India's interests in the South China Sea are not threatened. The country boasts close trade relations with East Asian nations; the South China Sea that harbors abundant oil and gas resources is viewed as one of its important energy sources in the future; the freedom of navigation in the waters is crucial to its interests.

Despite a close military bond with Vietnam, then Manmohan Singh administration rejected Hanoi's invitation to the Indian navy to set up a military base at Na Thrang port.

This case has fully demonstrated that the Indian government recognizes that its interests in the South China Sea are under no threat so that there is no need to build military presence in the region.

At present, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is neither thwarted nor threatened. "Backing the freedom of navigation in the waterway" is only a pseudo-proposition. Consequently, navies of non-claimant countries of the South China Sea merely signal that they take a side and provoke China by patrolling in the waters.

Military collaboration between Washington and New Delhi has been heating up in recent years. Nonetheless, the only purpose of the latter to conduct bilateral naval patrols with the former without its interests being hurt is to meet the demand of the largest world power.

In this way, the US can include India as a "vassal state" like Japan and Australia, which will damage India's dignity and deter its pursuit to become a great power. The move will definitely encounter vehement opposition from the Indian public, triggering a severe political disaster that the Narendra Modi government could predict.

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