The fragile security situation in the South China Sea, in addition to violations of established Codes of Conduct or Confidence Building Measures, poses a clear and present danger to order at sea, Admiral R Hari Kumar said Wednesday.
At the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD), he said that since the Indo-Pacific is the most militarised in the world, it further increases the probability of the competition turning into a conflict. The event was hosted jointly by the Navy and National Maritime Foundation.
“Owing to the increased presence of multinational forces, and differing interpretations of international laws, there is this fear that the Region’s ‘global commons’ can change to contested seas,” the Navy Chief said.
He said that more than 50 warships of extra-regional forces continue to remain deployed in the Indian Ocean Region for different missions, such as for anti-piracy patrol off the Gulf of Aden, adding that the wider Indo-Pacific also has significant naval presence.
Citing two recent incidents, during which trade and connectivity at sea was hampered, he said this contestation at sea can have consequences for security. The incidents he was referring to were the blockage of Suez Canal by MV Ever Green in 2021 and the disruption of Black Sea shipping lanes amid the conflict in Europe.
Sources in the government also said that the Indian Navy has been keeping a close watch on the movement of Chinese warships and a submarine which are participating in a naval exercise with Pakistan. Both the navies had kicked off a mega naval exercise in the Arabian Sea which also included their first joint maritime patrol.
“As part of our comprehensive maritime domain awareness, the Indian Navy maintains a close watch on all the movements in the Indian Ocean Region in line with national security interests,” a source said.
At the event, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman called the India-Middle East-Europe Economic corridor (IMEC) a win-win situation for all involved, but added that it is not without the existing geopolitical challenges, a worrying manifestation of which is the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza.
She said the IMEC will enhance transportation efficiency, reduce logistic costs, increase economic unity, generate employment as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions.
“It is a multimodal economic corridor that incorporates multiple networks of shipping, railways, and roadways and will also include electricity cables, high-speed data cables, and a hydrogen pipeline,” she said.
She said the project will connect Indian ports such as the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority, Mundra (Gujarat), and Kandla (Gujarat) to Fujairah, Jebel Ali, and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, and Saudi Arabian ports of Dammam, Ras Al Khair, and Ghuwaifat and a rail segment that will continue the IMEC and connect the Saudi Arabian cities of Haradh and Al Haditha, onward to the port of Haifa in Israel.
Source: Indiana Express