NEW DELHI: Sino-Indian ties have taken a hit with China blocking India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and also preventing the UN from sanctioning JeM chief Masood Azhar, but India seems to have finally decided it’s payback time.
India proposed to Singapore last month that the two countries make a specific mention in a joint statement of the international tribunal order in July dismissing China’s “historical” rights as claimed by Beijing over almost all of South China Sea waters, top sources said. While India’s proposal, made in the run up to the visit by Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong, was eventually shot down by Singapore, it indicates a resolve to forcefully articulate China’s non-compliance with international law even as Beijing throws cold water on India’s NSG bid citing New Delhi’s refusal to sign the NPT.
Singapore is not a claimant state in South China Sea and has avoided taking sides in territorial disputes which involve, apart from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei. That is why Singapore struck down India’s proposal as it did not want to go into the specifics by mentioning the tribunal ruling. India is now discussing including an acknowledgement of the tribunal ruling, which China dismissed as naturally null and void, in a joint statement with Japan which will be issued after the meeting next week between PM Narendra Modi and his counterpart Shinzo Abe.
India seems to want the joint statement with Vietnam, issued after Modi’s visit to Hanoi in September, to serve as a template for similar documents with countries in the region.
The document with Vietnam was unique because apart from the usual references to freedom of navigation and over flight, and respect for international law, it also noted “the award issued on July 12 2016 of the arbitral tribunal constituted under the Annex VII to the 1982 UN Convention on the Laws of Sea (UNCLOS)”.
In a first, Japan officially told TOI recently (as reported on October 24) that it was encouraging India to speak its mind on South China Sea dispute.
Japan is growing increasingly wary of China’s assertiveness in East China Sea where Beijing is challenging Japan’s sovereignty over Senkaku (China calls these Diaoyu) islands.
After TOI first reported on September 11 this year that Japan was willing to reduce the price of US-2i aircraft to revive the negotiations with India, China responded by saying that such a move would be “disgraceful” if it was aimed at applying pressure on China over issues related to South China Sea.