Code of Conduct on the South China Sea should be consistent with UN convention: EAM Jaishankar

NEW DELHIUpdated: Aug 04, 2021, 11:22 PM IST


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China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea, a huge source of hydrocarbons.

India stressed on Wednesday that the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea should be fully consistent with the relevant UN convention and that the negotiations on it should not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of the nations that are not a party to the discussions.

In a virtual address at a meeting of the East Asia Summit (EAS), External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also highlighted the growing convergence of approaches on the Indo-Pacific region among different members of the grouping.

Separately, Jaishankar also addressed a meeting of the ASEAN-India foreign ministers during which he touched upon a range of issues, including connectivity, and said India is looking forward to an early review of the "trade-in goods agreement".

"Stressed that Code of Conduct on the South China Sea should be fully consistent with UNCLOS 1982.

Should not prejudice legitimate rights and interests of nations not a party to discussions," Jaishankar tweeted about his meeting with the foreign ministers of the EAS member countries.

China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea, a huge source of hydrocarbons.

However, several ASEAN member countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei, have counterclaims.

India has been pitching for a rules-based order in the region, including through upholding adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

In his address at the EAS meeting, Jaishankar also supported the "ASEAN five-point" consensus on Myanmar and welcomed the appointment of a special envoy.

The external affairs minister also spoke about the growing COVID-19 challenge faced by ASEAN and conveyed India's support and solidarity.

Jaishankar described the discussions at the ASEAN meeting as "substantive and fruitful".

In a series of tweets, he said much of India's interests and relationships now lie to its east, which is a testimony of its ties with the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

The external affairs minister also emphasised accelerating connectivity projects and particularly talked about the trilateral highway and Kaladan projects.

The ambitious India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway is expected to boost connectivity among the three countries.

The Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project is being viewed as India's gateway to Southeast Asia.

Jaishankar also sought convergence between the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) proposed by India.

On the coronavirus pandemic, he said India and ASEAN are "strong partners in Covid response: medicines or oxygen, equipment or logistics".

Jaishankar also proposed 2022 as the ASEAN-India friendship year for the 30th anniversary of the ties between the two sides.

The ASEAN is considered to be one of the most influential groupings in the region, and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners.

The ties between India and the ASEAN have been on an upswing in the last few years with the focus being on ramping up cooperation in the areas of trade and investment as well as security and defence.

The EAS is the premier forum in the Asia-Pacific region to deal with issues relating to security and defence.

Since its inception in 2005, it has played a significant role in the strategic, geopolitical and economic evolution of East Asia.

Apart from the 10 ASEAN member states, the EAS includes India, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Russia.