Amid inflating tension between the US and China, the US administration is keen that India should play a vital role in the South China Sea and match its weight by actions.
Recently, the US deployed two aircraft carriers in the South China Sea with a clear message to Beijing that it doesn’t welcome China’s belligerence with its neighbours and increasing the regional tensions.
Chinese Foreign Ministry, in response, accused the US of deliberately sending its ships to the South China Sea so that it can demonstrate its strength and accused the US of trying to create a rift between the regional countries.
This is not the first time that the US and China have been engaged in muscle-flexing in the region. Experts say that the situation is slightly different this time as the coronavirus epidemic has drastically increased tension between the two nations.
The South China Sea which lies between Indonesia and Vietnam is spread over about 3.5 million square kilometers. China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have claims over the waters which is believed to be high on natural resources.
After the vicious India-China border dispute, there have been talks that India could play an active role in the South China Sea. India considers the South China Sea as a neutral place and believes that this neutrality should be maintained as these waters do not belong to any particular country.
Experts believe that India has come close to the US due to degenerating ties with China, but it is not correct to assume that India will play a very big role in the South China Sea. Experts say that – the US views India as a massive regional force and wants New Delhi to challenge the Chinese aggressively, something the Indian government is not too interested in.
Experts recall that when Obama came to India in 2015, New Delhi said that it was committed to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea and Beijing was quick to denounce the Indian statement.
After that, India never directly mentioned the issue by taking the name of China. On various occasions, India has talked about China’s expansionism but without naming it directly, which clearly suggests that New Delhi does not want to offend Beijing.
Recently as EurAsian Times reported, India permitted Australia to join the annual trilateral Malabar naval exercise involving India-Japan-USA. With Australia joining in, this could cement the QUAD alliance which Beijing considers as an anti-China grouping.
The decision to allow Australia to be a part of exercise comes at the heels of Chinese hostility in Galwan Valley, South China Sea (SCS) and the Strait of Taiwan. According to experts, the addition of Australia could re-activate the Quadrilateral Alliance (QUAD) between Australia, India, Japan and the US, which New Delhi had been avoiding so far.
OpED By Nitin J Ticku. Views Personal