While the US and China are engaged in a show of power in the South China Sea, India decided to side with the Philippines on its claims to the waters. In an official joint statement issued after Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj met Philippines’ Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F Del Rosario, Delhi referred to the disputed region as the West Philippine Sea and not South China Sea. This is the first such official instance and government officials told the newspaper that it was a deliberate decision to use the name which Philippines has been using for the past few years to refer to the waters which both they and China claim as theirs.
Meanwhile, a US defence official said on Wednesday that a meeting of Asia-Pacific defence ministers has scrapped plans for a joint declaration after the Chinese delegation lobbied to block mention of Beijing’s island-building activities in the disputed South China Sea.
“Our understanding is there will be no joint declaration,” the official said, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity.
The acrimony at the Kuala Lumpur defence dialogue marks the latest fallout from a confrontation between Washington and Beijing over China’s expansive claims to the strategic South China Sea and its construction of artificial islets to back them up.
It was not immediately clear who made the final decision not to issue a statement, but the US official said that “in our view, no statement is better than one that avoids the important issue of China’s (land) reclamation and militarisation in the South China Sea.”
Defence ministers from the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and several regional partners met Wednesday morning in Kuala Lumpur for an annual dialogue first launched in 2013.
Participants included US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter and China’s Defence Minister Chang Wanquan.
Officials said it was the first time the dialogue failed to issue a joint statement by the defence chiefs.
The China-US friction has spiked since last week, when the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of at least one of the China-built land formations in the disputed Spratly Islands.
Photo Credit :by The Maharlikan
Source :The Maharlikan