India’s different stands on South China Sea lead to confusion (Economic Times, 4 May 2016)

India’s different stands on South China Sea lead to confusion (Economic Times, 4 May 2016)

On April 18, foreign ministers of India, China and Russia stated after an RIC meeting in Moscow that “Russia, India and China are committed to maintaining a legal order for the seas and oceans based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS).All related disputes should be addressed through negotiations and agreements between the parties concerned. In this regard, the Ministers called for full respect of all provisions of UNCLOS, as well as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the Guidelines for the implementation of the DOC.” But just about a week earlier, when US defence secretary Ashton Carter was in Delhi, a joint statement between him and Manohar Parrikar had this to say: US and India “reaffirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region, including in the South China Sea.” Both affirmations are slightly different, raising questions about what Indi a’s actual position is. Sources said the RIC statement was in the context of a multilateral forum, but India’s sovereign position will be clarified on the day the permanent court of arbitration pronounces its verdict.