New Delhi, May 9 UNI | 3 months ago

Amidst escalating tension in the South China Sea over conflicting territorial claims, India has called for maintaining the freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of disputes.

''We have been following with concern recent developments in the South China Sea. We believe that maintenance of peace, stability, growth and prosperity in the region is of vital interest to the international community,'' Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

He was responding to a query on the confrontation between China and Vietnam near Parcel islands over drilling by an oil rig of China. Tension also developed between China and Philippines when the latter apprehended Chinese fishing boat and its 11 crew members near the Spratly Islands, which is another disputed region in the South China Sea.

According to Philippine authorities, the boat was carrying a large number of endangered species and by seizing the boat they asserted ''Philippine sovereign rights'' in the disputed waters.

On the other hand, Vietnam has alleged that Chinese military and civilian ships were intimidating their vessels near the Parcel Islands.

At present these islands are under Chinese control, but are claimed by Vietnam. China has accused Vietnam of forcefully disrupting its drilling activities.

The US State Department has called the Chinese move as 'provocative'.

Reacting to the situation, Mr Akbaruddin said India would like to see resolution of the issue through peaceful means in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law.

''In this context, we also maintain that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea should not be impeded and call for cooperation in ensuring security of sea-lanes and strengthening of maritime security,'' he said.

(Posted on 10-05-2014)