There is no change in the US’ policy towards Beijing on the South China Sea dispute and use of force and coercion by China in the region cannot be accepted at all, a top American Naval Commander said today. Indicating concern over China bolstering its naval prowess, US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott, here to explore ways to boost Indo-US naval ties, also said China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ project has caused “anxiety” in the region.
Swift said the US and India were boosting cooperation in the maritime domain and navies of the two nations will carry out a mega exercise in July with a major focus on anti- submarine warfare. He held extensive talks with Navy Chief Sunil Lanba and Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar during which a number of issues of common concern were discussed, besides preparation for the Malabar Naval exercise.
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“I do not see any change (in our policy),” he told reporters when asked about reports that the Trump regime was relaxing its position on the South China Sea issue to garner China’s support to ease tension in the Korean peninsula.
He said the South China Sea dispute must be resolved as per UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the US rejects use of coercion and force. “The US has a view that in order to maintain the veracity of the UNCLOS, it is important to challenge the claims which are excessive and beyond the context of the UN Law and convention,” Swift said.
The American Naval Commander also referred to India accepting ruling of a tribunal to resolve water dispute with Bangladesh despite the verdict going against it. “India is a major power but still it accepted the verdict,” he said, suggesting that China must accept decision on the South China Sea by the relevant international tribunal.
Asked about the tension in the Korean peninsula, he said the issue should be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue. Referring to China launching its second aircraft carrier, Swift said the Chinese naval capability is going to grow. He added that the US and India were aiming to deepen naval cooperation.
Asked whether India and the US were considering joint patrol.
Asked whether Australia and Japan will be part of the Malabar exercise in the Bay of Bengal, he said planning for the exercise was going and suggested that no decision was taken yet. Japan had participated in the annual exercise last year.
He suggested that the annual exercise will be bigger this time and that air defence and anti-submarine warfare will form a large part of the exercise. Before arriving here, Swift visited Australia and Indonesia.