Philippine and India could join hands to counter the Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. Philippine Defence Minister has stated that India has communicated its desire to carry out navigation activities in the South China Sea just like the US, UK and others to maintain a balance of power in the region.
ET in its report writes that Philippine Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana said navigation in the South China Sea is open to all countries. “We do not prevent other countries from passing through or doing things there in the South China Sea. The British do pass through the South China Sea. The French, all other countries. We do not invite them to come,” he said, adding India can also be present in the area. Lorenzana further asserted that China’s naval drills in the South China Sea are a cause for concern.
Meanwhile, the Philippine foreign secretary had earlier warned China on Friday of “the severest response” if ongoing Chinese naval drills in the South China Sea spill over into Philippine territory.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said China’s PLA troops have been conducting regular drills off the Paracel Islands and Chinese officials have blocked all vessels from navigating within the area of the manoeuvres.
After examining the coordinates of the Chinese-declared no-entry zone where the drills were being conducted, Locsin said the waters off the Paracels, which are also contested by neighbouring Vietnam, “do not impinge on Philippine territory” but it was still a concern.
The declaration by Delfin Lorenzana comes after discussions between Indian PM Narendra Modi and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte following which New Delhi decided to extend its strategic partnership with the Philippines in the South China Sea as per the ET.