India's Veiled Jab At China, Backs Philippines Over Maritime Security Concerns

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's remarks came amid the Philippines's maritime dispute with China in the South China Sea.

India's Veiled Jab At China, Backs Philippines Over Maritime Security Concerns

S Jaishankar met his Philippines counterpart Enrique Manalo in Manila


India firmly supports the Philippines in upholding its national sovereignty and wants to explore new areas of cooperation, including in defence and security, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday, amid the Southeast Asian nation's maritime dispute with China in the South China Sea.

S Jaishankar's remarks came as he held a very good discussion with his counterpart Enrique Manalo in Manila.

"Warm and productive meeting with @SecManalo of Philippines. Wide-ranging discussion on advancing ties in political, defence, security & maritime cooperation, trade & investment, infrastructure, development cooperation, education, digital, technology, culture and consular domains," S Jaishankar posted on X.

They also exchanged views on global, regional and multilateral issues including the Indo-Pacific, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), West Asia, Ukraine, Non-Aligned Movement and the UN.

"As two democracies committed to a rules-based order, look forward to intensifying our cooperation," he said.

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Addressing a joint press conference with Manalo, Mr Jaishankar said: "I take this opportunity to firmly reiterate India's support to the Philippines for upholding its national sovereignty.

As the world changes, it is essential that India and the Philippines cooperate more closely to shape the emerging world, he said.

Every country has the right to uphold and enforce its national sovereignty, he said in response to a question.

"That is something that we have also discussed," he added.

There has been very perceptible growth in bilateral ties between India and the Philippines recently, the minister said.

On a question on India's plans to expand the defence cooperation with the Philippines amid development in the South China Sea, Mr Jaishankar said: "You need to look at that cooperation on its own merits. It is not necessarily linked to a particular situation.

"But it's natural today that two countries whose trust and comfort is growing so rapidly that we will look at various new areas of cooperation. And certainly defence and security is one of them," he said.

China claims most of the South China Sea. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims.

China has deployed hundreds of coastguard vessels throughout the South China Sea to patrol what it considers its waters, despite a 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in a case brought by the Philippines that said the claim had no basis under international laws.

Manalo said the Philippines consistently reaffirmed the need to abide by international law and also for international rules and regulations when it comes to the maritime area.

Speaking about Beijing's recent activities in the South China Sea, he accused China of trying to prevent Philipino ships from supplying its troops.

"India and the Philippines have a very deep interest in ensuring a free open and inclusive Indo-Pacific Ocean and in this region. And it is in this context that we are having extensive discussions regularly on defence cooperation, and security cooperation, mainly also with a view to supporting an international rules-based order," Manalo said.

Mr Jaishankar said every country has an interest in maritime security and safety.

"In our case probably it is more than many other countries normally would have," he said.

"As our relationship goes, as I pointed out it was natural to look at defence and security," he said.

The partnership between India and the Philippines also has a larger context in terms of the engagement with the ASEAN.

"As a nation deeply invested in this region, because of its Act East Policy and Indo-Pacific region, India follows all developments with great interest. We are strongly supportive of ASEAN centrality, cohesion, and unity," he said.

Mr Jaishankar said as the two nations move towards the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, he is confident that there is much more that awaits them. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)