In what could be read as a reference to China’s claims in the South China Sea, Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan has advocated strengthening of “international legal norms” to ensure “secure and stable seas”.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.
Talking to The Indian Express, Dhowan also said that 46 ships being readied for the Navy will be “made in India”, and that 37 of 71 ships participating in the International Fleet Review (IFR) at Visakhapatnam this week will be indigenous. He said the decision to host 51 countries at the IFR is in sync with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East policy”.
“In our interaction with participating navies, we are looking at specific strategic outcomes under the broad ambit of ensuring secure and stable seas. We seek to address shared security concerns with like-minded nations… Through such interactions, we seek to strengthen good order and international legal norms at sea by enhancing respect for international law. The final outcome we seek is to provide freedom of navigation and safety in the global commons for mutual beneficial interests,” Dhowan said.
The statement comes against the backdrop of tension between the US and China over the South China Sea. A US diplomat on Wednesday said the country is open to the possibility of joint naval patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea, stressing that it would continue to exercise “freedom of navigation” in the disputed waters.
On the ‘Make in India’ front, Dhowan said, “All 46 platforms currently on order, ranging from submarines to the aircraft carrier, are being built by Indian shipyards, both public and private… It would make every Indian proud to know that our latest ship, INS Kadmatt, is about 90 per cent indigenous in content.”
“Our Eastern seaboard has always been central to many maritime activities since ancient times… Therefore, conducting the IFR on the Eastern seaboard was only natural,” he added.