India Supports Philippines Amidst South China Sea Tensions

Amidst escalating tensions in the South China Sea due to aggressive actions by China towards Philippine vessels, India has expressed its unwavering support for the Philippines in upholding its sovereignty.

During a press conference in Manila, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar reaffirmed India’s commitment to assisting the Philippines in maintaining peace and freedom in the Indo-Pacific region.

The latest incident occurred near Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands, where a routine Philippine mission to resupply troops on the BRP Sierra Madre was disrupted. Following this event, Deputy Foreign Ministers from both countries engaged in discussions to address the issue.

Later the minister called on Philippine President Bongbong Marcos and sought his direction for expanding the bilateral ties and boosting collaboration between the two democracies.

During the meeting he also conveyed President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal greetings to him.

Earlier in the day, during his meeting with his counterpart, Jaishankar also briefed him on the Indian Navy’s deployments in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea to counter threats. The Indian Navy’s role in rescuing the Philippines crew was appreciated.

In response to a question, Jaishankar said: “As the world changes, it is essential that India and the Philippines cooperate more closely to shape the emerging model. Every country has the right to uphold and enforce its national sovereignty.”

Additionally, Philippines Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Enrique Manalo reaffirmed that India and the Philippines have a strong interest in ensuring a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific and are discussing the issue on a regular basis.

What’s going on in the South China Sea?

Tensions between China and the Philippines have intensified in the South China Sea as disputes over reefs escalate.

A recent clash near Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands marked a significant escalation.

The Philippines’ routine mission to resupply troops on the BRP Sierra Madre, a grounded navy vessel, was disrupted.

Following this incident, deputy foreign ministers from both nations engaged in a phone call.

China, Philippines Deputy FMs hold phone call

The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, in a statement said that Manila conveyed its “strong protest against the aggressive actions” undertaken by China’s Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militias against the Philippine mission near the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.

The department said it has also instructed its mission in Beijing to lodge a formal complaint over the incident.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong talked with Maria Theresa Lazaro, the Philippine deputy foreign secretary.

They addressed concerns regarding the Philippines’ supply transportation to the military ship grounded on Ren’ai Reef. Manila vehemently protested against the aggressive actions of the China Coast Guard and Chinese Maritime Militia.

Both countries remain steadfast in their positions, unwilling to compromise.

The situation in the region continues to be tense, with no signs of immediate resolution. The international community closely monitors the developments, wary of any further escalation.

The dispute underscores broader geopolitical tensions in the region and raises concerns about the potential for military conflict. Efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the dispute have so far yielded limited progress.

The coming days will likely see continued diplomatic manoeuvring and heightened military presence in the area.

The two countries are moving ahead on Quick Impact Projects in agriculture, health and capacity building.

Indian companies have been active in the ASEAN nation, as much as in the digital infrastructure as in the physical one.

There is considerable interest in the Indian corporate sector in stepping that up.

As two seafaring nations of the Indo-Pacific, maritime cooperation holds great potential.

Last year, the two countries signed agreements on enhanced maritime cooperation and white shipping.

In terms of the engagement with ASEAN, the Philippines will take over as India’s country coordinator later this year.

“We look forward to its steering India-ASEAN cooperation, especially in regard to reviewing the trade agreement, to building connectivity and to deepening people-to-people contacts,” said Jaishankar in his opening statement at the press conference.