Australia, India reaffirm opposition to unilateral changes in South China Sea

Australia and India have jointly called for a peaceful settlement of their territorial disputes and have rejected the use of force in the South China Sea, where Beijing is increasingly asserting.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Joint statement On Saturday, he urged countries to refrain from engaging in actions that could escalate conflicts within the region.

The two leaders stressed that any code of conduct in the South China Sea must be “valid” and fully consistent with the legitimate rights of all states, including states not party to territorial disputes.

“The Prime Minister stressed the importance of being able to exercise rights and freedoms in all seas and oceans, including freedom of navigation and overflight, consistent with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the statement said. ing. .

The joint statement was made after talks between Modi and the Albanians in India on Thursday. It also followed meetings with Beijing and Southeast Asian countries (ASEAN) in Indonesia on Wednesday.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry director Sidhart Suriodiplo said on Sunday that his country and other ASEAN member states are demanding an “effective, substantive and workable” code of conduct for the South China Sea.

“I don’t want it to be a document that just agrees just for the sake of agreeing,” Suliodiplo told reporters. benal news.

The Code of Conduct aims to maintain stability in the South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines have competing claims to Beijing, with Beijing claiming almost all of them under its “nine-dash line.”

Although Indonesia does not consider itself a party to the dispute, Beijing claims sovereignty over the waters that overlap Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone.

Beijing has aggressively enforced its territorial claims in the South China Sea by deploying coast guards and imposing fishing bans in it, leading to protests from other countries.

In the days leading up to the talks, the Philippines seized suspected Chinese naval vessels, Coast Guard ships, and 42 Chinese maritime militia vessels near the Filipino-occupied island of Titu on March 4. said to have found

“Their continued unauthorized presence is clearly inconsistent with their right of innocent transit and is a blatant violation of the territorial integrity of the Philippines,” the Philippine Coast Guard said.

Relations between Australia and India

Australia and India have committed to deepening defense and security cooperation to address common challenges and work towards an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

“The prime ministers agreed that, as a practical step, India and Australia should continue to explore the implementation of aircraft deployments from each other’s territories to build operational familiarity and raise awareness of the maritime domain,” the statement said. Says.

Albanese also confirmed that Australia will host this year’s joint Indian military exercises, the Malabar Exercises, off the coast of Western Australia.

“I am pleased to officially announce … later this year Australia will host Exercise Malabar for the first time and India will also participate in Australia’s Talisman Saber exercise for the first time,” he told reporters.

According to Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, India’s expansion of diplomatic ties with the United States has been essential in reshaping Australia-India ties.

This contrasts with relations a few years ago when India refused a role for the Australian Navy in the exercise Malabar military exercise, in which Australia was only allowed to participate as an observer.

“Now India and Australia are allied with the United States in the Indo-Pacific region. voice of america.

Australia, India, the United States, and Japan are part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which seeks to counter Beijing’s efforts to dominate the Indo-Pacific.

At the Quad geopolitical summit on March 3, diplomats from Japan, Australia, India and the United States said Beijing had no reason to fear the Quad as long as the communist regime “abides” with international rules.

Henry Jom contributed to this report.