India Maintaining Presence In South China Sea

Despite India get­ting out of oil explo­ration blocks in the South Chi­na Sea, the navy is keen to main­tain a strong role for itself in the South Chi­na Sea.

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Four Indi­an Navy war­ships, INS Rana, Shak­ti, Shiv­a­lik and Kur­mak are cur­rent­ly mov­ing across the South Chi­na Sea and are on their way to Shang­hai, where they will dock at Shang­hai port for a good­will vis­it in a cou­ple of weeks. At the same time, two of the four ships, INS Rana and Shak­ti have been min­gling with the Philip­pines navy in Subic Bay. Two oth­er war­ships, INS Shiv­a­lik and INS Kur­mak, are mak­ing port calls at Hai­fong in Viet­nam.

In the recent past, Philip­pines and Chi­na have locked guns over each oth­er over ter­ri­to­r­i­al rights on Scar­bor­ough Shoal. The area is believed to be extreme­ly ener­gy-rich.

In the next cou­ple of days, offi­cials from ONGC Videsh (OVL) will meet their coun­ter­parts from Petro Viet­nam in Hanoi to look at ener­gy coop­er­a­tion after OVL pulled out from Block 128 in South Chi­na Sea. ONGC had entered into an ener­gy agree­ment with the Viet­namese com­pa­ny dur­ing the vis­it of Viet­namese Pres­i­dent Truong Tan Sang to India in Octo­ber 2011.

India is believed to have paid a $15 mil­lion exit fee to Petro Viet­nam for get­ting out of the block.

But despite India’s pull out from the oil block, the navy con­tin­ues to have a strong inter­est in the South Chi­na Sea, because it is key to India’s Look East pol­i­cy. In July 2012, Indi­an and US offi­cials will hold dis­cus­sions on a key project in south­east Asia. The project is about fur­ther devel­op­ing East-West Mekong con­nec­tiv­i­ty cor­ri­dors. The project is envis­aged as a tri­lat­er­al project with Japan. This project intends to set up a mul­ti-modal trans­port and trade cor­ri­dor from India, tra­vers­ing through Myan­mar, Thai­land, Cam­bo­dia and Laos and end­ing in Viet­nam. Japan has recent­ly stepped up it’s fund­ing com­mit­ments to this cor­ri­dor.

How­ev­er, Chi­na is much ahead with it’s own con­nec­tiv­i­ty plans and these run north-south and has done much to put a grid of con­nec­tiv­i­ty in the Mekong region in south­east Asia.

On June 6, India’s for­eign min­is­ter S. M. Krish­na will trav­el to Bei­jing to rep­re­sent India as an observ­er at the Shang­hai Coop­er­a­tion Orga­ni­za­tion (SCO) meet­ing.

Source:
www.DefenceNews.in

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