• The South China Sea is located just south of the Chinese mainland, bordered by Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
  • The region has been a hotspot for territorial disputes for decades, with tensions recently escalating to unprecedented levels.
  • As one of the most strategically important maritime areas, China’s ambition to control the South China Sea is driven by its desire to exert greater regional authority.


Strategic Importance to India’s Security:

  • The South China Sea, a global maritime common, has historically served as a vital sea-lane of communication, facilitating uninterrupted passage for millennia.
  • India has had a significant maritime presence in these waters for over 1,500 years, with historical and archaeological evidence of trade from Kedah in Malaysia to Quanzhou in China.
  • Nearly $200 billion in Indian trade passes through the South China Sea, and many Indian citizens study, work, and invest in ASEAN countries, China, Japan, and South Korea.
  • Ensuring peace, stability, and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is critical for India’s economic prosperity and regional security.

Economic and Geopolitical Interests:

  • The region’s stability is crucial for routine economic activities and collaborations with friendly countries.
  • The South China Sea is rich in natural resources, with an estimated 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas according to the United States Energy Information Agency.
  • The area is also home to abundant fishing grounds, providing a major source of income for millions across the region.


The unfolding situation in the South China Sea is of paramount importance to India’s security, given its strategic, economic, and geopolitical implications.

India’s historical ties and current economic interests in the region necessitate a stable and peaceful maritime environment.

As a significant player in the Indo-Pacific, India must advocate for a rules-based order in the South China Sea to ensure regional stability and secure its own interests.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish June 29, 2024