India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday hit out at China, saying the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must commit to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Foreign Minister was addressing the foreign ministers’ meeting of 13th East Asia Summit in Indonesia.
The External Affairs Minister said that ASEAN is an important pillar of India’s Act East Policy and its comprehensive vision of Indo-Pacific. It plays an important role in advancing the Indo-Pacific. He said that India strongly supports ASEAN.
Jaishankar said East Asia Summit should commit to a free and open Indo-Pacific with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Let us tell you, the Indian Pacific is a bio-geographical region, which includes part of the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.
Indeed, the US, India and many other countries have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and prosperous Indian Pacific because of China’s increasing military activities in the region. China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its own. While Taiwan, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also say that they also have some part in it.
Beijing has maintained artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has a dispute with Japan in the East China Sea. Jaishankar said that there is a great synergy between the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and AOIP proposed by India. He said that the Quad will always be complementary to ASEAN.
He said that Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) will always be complementary to ASEAN. AOIP contributes to hypothesis of Quad. India reaffirms the centrality of ASEAN in the Indo-Pacific and talks about strengthening the East Asia Summit.