The South China Sea, positioned south of the Chinese mainland, is surrounded by Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Prolonged territorial disputes in the region have escalated significantly in recent years, with China seeking control for strategic dominance.
The involvement of the United States adds a layer of complexity, as it counters China’s territorial claims to protect its political and economic interests in the region.
Why in News?
The Philippine coast guard recently dismantled a floating barrier erected by China in the disputed Scarborough Shoal, emphasizing the violation of international law and Philippine sovereignty.
Importance of the South China Sea for India:
The South China Sea serves as a global common and a vital sea-lane of communication, facilitating over $5 trillion in global trade.
India, despite not being a claimant, has a significant stake, with approximately 55% of its commerce traversing the South China Sea and the Malacca Straits.
Historical evidence underscores India’s presence in these waters for over 1,500 years, substantiating the importance of the region in India’s trade and cultural exchanges.
The South China Sea represents a crucial economic lifeline for India, as nearly $200 billion of its trade depends on these maritime routes, and numerous Indian citizens are involved in educational, professional, and investment activities across ASEAN, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
Establishing strategic alliances and fostering high-level diplomatic contacts are imperative for India to safeguard its interests in the South China Sea.
India’s commitment to ASEAN is pivotal for the region’s stability, and it is essential to navigate the evolving geopolitical landscape with a focus on long-term engagements.
The Indo-Pacific has thrived under American hegemony for the past four decades, emphasizing the need for India to consider sustained investments and collaborations for regional stability.