India to deploy navy to tense S China Sea

India to deploy navy to tense S China Sea

NEW DELHI - Reuters
India has declared itself ready to deploy naval vessels to the South China Sea to protect its oil-exploration interests, a potential new escalation of tensions in a disputed area where fears of armed conflict have been growing steadily.

Indian Navy Chief Admiral D.K Joshi said that, while India was not a territorial claimant in the South China Sea, it was prepared to act, if necessary, to protect its maritime and economic interests in the region.

“When the requirement is there, for example, in situations where our country’s interests are involved we will be required to go there and we are prepared for that,” Joshi said. “Now, are we preparing for it? Are we having exercises of that nature? The short answer is yes,” he said. Tensions have simmered in the South China Sea for many years but have escalated this year as China begins to assert its long-standing offshore claims more vigorously.

Parts of the South China Sea are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

The region is believed to be rich in oil and gas, and more than half the world’s oil-tanker traffic passes through it.