India entering South China Sea to counter China: Analysts

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Beijing: China is suspiciously watching India’s decision to go ahead with oil exploration cooperation with Vietnam in the South China Sea, despite objections from Beijing. Chinese analysts say this is New Delhi’s strategy to counter Chinese forays into Indian neighbourhood.

India’s oil exploration cooperation with Vietnam in the South China Sea is a provocative move to show its annoyance over Beijing building up close ties with countries like Myanmar and Pakistan, said Shen Dingli, Director of the Centre for American Studies, of Institute of International Studies at China’s Fudan University.

“In recent years, China has also been building up ties with countries like Myanmar. Pakistan has invited China to provide safety protection and offered China a naval port on the Indian Ocean. All these moves made India feel nervous,” Shen told.

Ever since the Indian firm ONGC took up oil exploration in two blocks in the South China Sea claimed by Vietnam, the Chinese official media has extended proactive coverage to it, calling on the government to firmly handle it to reassert its supremacy in the region.

Besides China, the disputed waters in the South China Sea are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. The disputed waters contain rich oil reserves, estimated up to 28 billion barrels.

The joint exploration between India and Vietnam is not accidental, since in recent years India has taken an increasingly eastward-looking stance, Wu Xinbo, Professor at the Centre for American Studies, Fudan University, said.

As a South Asian country, India actively takes part in East Asian issues through the support of the US, which has been advocating for Asian countries to counter China.

“The US takes every opportunity to counter China, and its joint military manoeuvres with Japan and other regional countries have been more frequent in recent years,” Wu said.

“This project helped India kill two birds with one stone. It will bring economic benefits to India and at the same time help it to balance out China politically,” Wu said.