MonitorsPublished on Dec 05, 2016
Japan protested to China after four Chinese coast guard ships sailed into territorial waters of Senkaku Islands & other roundups from South China Monitor
South China Sea Monitor | Volume V; Issue 12 |India & Japan: Cementing Bilateral Ties
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Mr. Shinzo Abe, during the annual bilateral summit served to further consolidate the existing bilateral ties of both countries. The two heads of government reinforced their shared interests and reviewed their Special Strategic and Global Partnership as outlined in the "India and Japan Vision 2025" as decided in December 2015. While discussions ned across a number of subjects including the economic ties, the environment, healthcare, space cooperation and so on, the two leaders also focused on the security and geo-political aspects of the Asia Pacific. What is most significant is that as stakes in the Asia Pacific grow and the political scenario also undergoes shifts, countries in the region are increasingly looking for allies they can depend on and with whom they have shared interests. Both countries are committed to freedom of navigation, regional stability, disarmament and the defence of international law. This is also evident from the specific mention of the South China Sea in the joint statement of the last two summits. During the meetings Tokyo and New Delhi stressed the need for stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific as well the requirement of strengthening their bilateral security and defence cooperation. In this regard, both countries reiterated the importance of dialogue through the "2+2” Dialogue, Defence Policy Dialogue, Military-to-Military Talks and Coast Guard-to-Coast Guard co-operation. The region is increasingly becoming witness to ‘white-hull diplomacy’ or the fact that adverse encounters between the coast guards or two countries are more susceptible to sparking tensions than naval activities. Indeed countries in the region are investing more and more in the maintenance and improvement of their respective coast guards. The strategic partnership between India and Japan is important for the promotion of regional stability especially because both are expanding economically; both are becoming more dynamic in terms of their security and defence outlooks and both are on the same page as far as the regional order of the Asia Pacific is concerned. The region is constantly undergoing changes and partnerships are being forged as quickly as they are becoming strained as portrayed by the recent developments in Sino-Philippines relationship as well as the constructions being undertaken by Beijing and Hanoi and the determination of Taiwan to play a larger role in these waters. Before the visit, the Chinese state media had cautioned India against taking a stand on the South China Sea issue and warned against any act by India and Japan to ‘balance’ or ‘contain’ China. While the previous Indian establishment has always gone out of its way not to antagonize Beijing, the current dispensation seems unfettered by such concerns. The inclusion of Japan in the Malabar naval exercises held by India and the US is noteworthy in this respect. The two leaders even discussed possibilities of congruence between India’s ‘Act East’ initiative and Japan’s ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy’ which follows from the identification of the Indo-Pacific region as the fulcrum of global prosperity. Developments in the Asia Pacific cannot happen without taking cognizance of China, whether directly or indirectly. The recent visit is indicative of New Delhi and Japan’s strengthening ties corroborate the intent of countries in the region to becoming more disposed towards bilateral as well as multilateral resolutions for sustaining peace and balancing strategic interests. Recent commentaries: Vivek Mishra, “Japan and India: A Special Relationship?”, The National Interest, November 24, 2016


Beijing untypically quiet on Taiwan drills in South China Sea

Taiwan held rescue drills on Tuesday off the coast of its sole outpost in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea, but the biggest claimant in the disputed waters kept uncharacteristically quiet. China and self-governed Taiwan seldom see eye to eye, but in responding to Taipei's latest assertion of sovereignty over Itu Aba, Beijing has avoided the harsh language it often directs at other claimants to the busy waterway. Experts say Beijing is largely content for Taipei to push its claims on Itu Aba, the largest natural feature in the Spratlys, because China views Taiwan as a breakaway province, to be taken back by force one day, if necessary. Source: (Reuters)

Over 700 US naval patrols in South China Sea threatens China's sovereignty, think tank warns

American military vessels and aircraft carried out more than 700 patrols in the South China Sea region during 2015, making China the US’s No. 1 surveillance target, according to a report by China’s only state-backed institution dedicated to research of the waters. The patrols pose a threat to China’s sovereignty and security interests, said the report by the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, which is headquartered in Hainan island. The document, the first of its kind released by China, warned that continued targeted operations by US patrols would lead to militarization of the waters. Source: (The Economic Times)

China mum on Duterte's proposal to declare Panatag a sanctuary

Beijing refused to comment on the recent proposal of President Rodrigo Duterte to declare the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal into a marine sanctuary. This is contrary to the recent statement of Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar that Chinese President Xi Jinping was receptive to Duterte's idea. When asked about China's response to the president's plan to declare the disputed shoal a lagoon, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang insisted that Beijing's sovereignty and jurisdiction over the shoal will not change. Declaring the disputed Panatag Shoal in the South China Sea a maritime sanctuary would make it off-limits to all fishermen. Source: (Philstar)

Philippines to declare marine sanctuary in South China Sea

Philippine officials said Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte planned to declare a marine sanctuary and no-fishing zone at a lagoon within Scarborough Shoal, a reef China seized in 2012. The announcement followed Mr. Duterte’s meeting with President Xi Jinping of China on the side-lines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Peru. It was unclear whether the plan had Mr. Xi’s backing; the Philippine national security adviser, Hermogenes Esperon Jr., said in a statement that creating the proposed sanctuary was “a unilateral action.” Source: (The New York Times)

China urges Vietnam to stop construction on South China Sea island

China on Friday responded to Vietnam construction on a South China Sea island, urging the country to stop its occupation and illegal activities on China's territory. "China is firmly opposed to the relevant country's illegal occupation of South China Sea reefs, and construction on China's territory," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at a routine press briefing. Geng was responding to a question regarding a U.S. think tank report, which said satellite images taken this month showed Vietnam had lengthened its runway on the Nansha Islands. China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, Geng said. Source: (Xinhua)

India, Japan call for peaceful solution to South China Sea

India and Japan sought a peaceful solution to the territorial disputes in the strategic South China Sea, saying parties involved in the matter must not resort to "threat or use of force", in remarks that could anger China which is opposed to any outside interference. After their comprehensive talks, Prime Minister NarendraModi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe also reiterated their commitment to respect freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeded lawful commerce, based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Source: (NDTV)

Japan protests latest Chinese intrusion near Senkaku Islands

Japan protested to China after four Chinese coast guard ships sailed into the territorial waters of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, the Japan Coast Guard said. The vessels entered the waters at around 10 a.m. and left within two hours, the Japan Coast Guard said. Japan, China and Taiwan are locked in a long-running dispute over the uninhabited islets, which are administered by Japan but claimed as Diaoyu by China and Tiaoyutai by Taiwan. On Sunday, Tokyo lodged a protest with China’s foreign ministry through the Japanese Embassy in Beijing and said the islands are “an inherent territory of Japan.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office also beefed up the team in charge of monitoring Chinese ships, a government official said. Source: (The Japan Times)

Indonesian president says 'no compromise' on South China Sea

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said there will be "no compromise" to his country's sovereignty in the contested South China Sea, ahead of a visit to staunch U.S. ally Australia. The comments come after Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said the two countries were considering joint naval patrols in the contested waters.  China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia also claim part of the sea.  Indonesian warplanes staged a large-scale exercise last month in the waters around the Natuna Islands archipelago, following a spate of face-offs between the country's navy and Chinese fishing boats in the gas-rich southern end of the South China Sea. Source: (Reuters)

China, Malaysia pledge to narrow differences on South China Sea

China and Malaysia vowed to deepen cooperation on the ­disputed South China Sea on Tuesday as Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met Premier Li ­Keqiang in Beijing. Li called on Malaysia and China to further consolidate their relationship, especially when it came to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as part of China’s efforts to win over member nations of the bloc. Malaysia had also agreed to buy four Chinese naval vessels, according to a report by Malaysian state media. A number of other deals were signed between the two countries, including a memo of understanding on defence cooperation. Source: (South China Morning Post)



 Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury & Pratnashree Basu, “Meeting with China in the Bay of Bengal”, Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, Vol. 2, No. 12, October 2016


Nguyen Quoc-Thanh, “Is Vietnam Reigniting a Fire in the South China Sea?”, The Diplomat, November 29, 2016 Shang-su Wu, “How Much of an Advantage Is China's Aircraft Carrier?”, The Diplomat, November 26, 2016 Prashanth Parameswaran, “Japan Reveals First ASEAN Defense Initiative With 'Vientiane Vision'”, The Diplomat, November 26, 2016 Purnendra Jain, “India and Japan scale new heights”, East Asia Forum, November 25, 2016 Muhamad Jaki Nurhasya, “Indonesia's take on South China Sea 'White Hull race', The Jakarta Post, November 24, 2016 Aaron Jed Rabena, “Rebalancing Philippine foreign policy”, November 24, 2016 Mark J. Valencia, “Beijing-Philippine fishing deal could foreshadow oil pact”, Global Times, November 23, 2016 Tatsuya Fukumoto and Yuko Mukai, “Behind the Scenes / Pursuing air supremacy in South China Sea”, The Japan News, November 17, 2016 Ding Gang, “What does Trump mean for the South China Sea dispute?” The Japan Times, November 17, 2016 Darshana Baruah, “Japan: India’s Unique Maritime Partner”, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, November 17, 2016 Andrew Elek, “Priorities for the future of APEC”, East Asia Forum, November 16, 2016 Geoffrey Till, “Home or Away? South Korea’s New Naval Base”, RSIS, November 8, 2016 Collin Koh Swee Lean, “Malaysia’s Navy Deal with China: Meeting A Complex Security Challenge”, RSIS, November 2, 2016

Editor: K. Yhome

Associate Editor: Pratnashree Basu

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