India and China are on the road to greater bilateral cooperation as Indian Navy’s ships decide to dock in Shanghai next week. This goodwill gesture comes a day after Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and Chinese Vice Premier Li Xeqiang during the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in China.
During the sidelines of the SCO summit, External Affairs Minister Krishna and his Chinese counterpart have decided to speed up crucial dialogues on Central and West Asia as well as Africa. As for the docking of four Indian Navy ships in Shanghai, the move is meant to foster trust in the maritime domain.
During the summit, the Indian Minister has suggested that India would be happy to play a larger, wider and more constructive role in the SCO as a full member, as and when the organisation finalises the expansion modalities. At present, India, along with Iran, Pakistan and Mongolia, enjoys the status of observer at the SCO. India feels that the economic development projects of the SCO can be a meaningful additional effort for Afghanistan’s reconstruction.
As for the goodwill visit by four of Indian Navy’s ships to China, it is a pointer towards the mutual cooperation between the two nations to be vigilant in the maritime domain and is meant to neutralize the negativity surrounding China’s role in the South China Sea. Both the nations have decided to hold the first meeting of the maritime dialogue soon. The aim is to combat piracy and initiate seabed research.
During the SCO summit, China reiterated that the differences with India were minor and would not be allowed to disturb the working relationship between the two countries. External Affairs Minister Krishna indicated China agrees to push forward the developemtal aspirations of India and will handle sensitive issues very carefully. The two ministers also discussed bilateral issues including the maritime security situation and boosting up of economic and trade ties.
Earlier this month, Defence Minister AK Antony had stated that maritime security issues have become a strategic priority for India due to its geographical location, extensive maritime interests, dependence on the seas for trade and the evolving asymmetric threats in the form of maritime terrorism, piracy and drug trafficking.
India has clearly indicated that maritime freedom cannot be exclusive to a few nations and that common seas cannot be declared exclusive to any one country or group. The idea is to strike a balance between the rights of nations and the freedoms of the world community in the maritime domain. As for India, it is open to a transparent and inclusive maritime security architecture that would ensure the protection and preservation of maritime freedom.