SINGAPORE: Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Saturday it’s in China’s economic interest to reduce tensions in the South China Sea, where Beijing is embroiled in territorial disputes with various governments.
Parrikar told an international security conference that understanding each other’s perspectives and increasing trust between stakeholders will reduce tensions.
“It is ultimately economics,” Parrikar said. “If you have an unstable region like what we have in the Middle East, I don’t think economics and prosperity will really (be) enhanced.”
Although India is not a party to the South China Sea disputes, China is its traditional adversary. They fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962.
The three- day Shangri-La Dialogue, which is being attended by defence ministers and experts from 50 countries, ends on Sunday and covers topics that also include terrorism, cybercrime and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
At the summit, the US stepped up pressure on China to rein in its actions in the sea, with top defence officials underlining Washington’s military superiority and vowing to remain the main guarantor of Asian security for decades to come.
Defense secretary Ash Carter warned China against provocative behaviour in the South China Sea. Any action by China to reclaim land in the Scarborough Shoal, an outcrop in the disputed sea, would have consequences, Carter said.
Parrikar said however small or “however powerful” a country may be, “no commerce or commercial activity takes place in a highly tense (region). And I think it is in the interest of everyone, including China, to ensure that the peace remains in this region.”
Japanese defence minister Gen Nakatani emphasised peace will lead to prosperity, saying it was “getting increasingly important for all nations in the region to establish the order based on the rule of the law”.