The South China Sea is a major point of dispute between China and the US. Washington has rejected Beijing’s territorial claims over the resource-rich waters. China, in recent years, has increased its military presence in the South China Sea.
Developments in the South China Sea have attracted international attention and India supports freedom of navigation in these international waters, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Wednesday in a reference to China’s aggressive claims over the key waterway.
Speaking at a meeting of ASEAN Defence Ministers, he said, “India calls for a free, open and inclusive order in the Indo-Pacific, based upon respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws.”
China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin were also present during the virtual meeting, which also included defence ministers of the ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and eight dialogue partner countries, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Russia. India, China and the US are also dialogue partners.