US, India stir S. China Sea debate

Updated: 2014-10-06 06:15

By PU ZHENDONG in Beijing(China Daily USA)

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Observers said Washington is hyping regional tensions to draw support from India and other countries to disrupt Beijing's efforts at safeguarding its own interests.

An India-US joint statement, which was issued after the bilateral meeting between US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday at the White House, specifically mentioned the situation in South China Sea.

The two leaders reportedly expressed concern about "rising tensions over maritime territorial disputes" in the region.

Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said: "The resolution of the South China Sea issue lies in joint efforts from China and related regional countries. The more intervention from other outside forces, the more complicated the situation will become."

"The irresponsible US remarks that smeared China have already caused panic among regional countries," Li said.

For India, the South China Sea has become a waterway of strategic significance along with New Delhi's "Look East" policy and its booming trade with Northeast and Southeast Asian countries, said Hu Shisheng, a South Asia studies scholar at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

"India is establishing its status as an 'Indo-Pacific country' through cooperation with West Pacific countries on projects such as energy and shipping, so strengthening maritime security cooperation with regional stakeholders conforms to its interest," Hu said.

Ma Jun, a researcher in Indian studies at the Academy of Military Science of the People's Liberation Army, said New Delhi is unlikely to be kidnapped by Washington's agenda as it seeks balance among big countries like the US and China.

"India is considered more open toward development and more vocal on regional and international issues since the new Modi administration was sworn in in May," Ma said.

"Generally, New Delhi would prefer to cooperate with Beijing in areas such as economic development and enhance security ties with Washington, to maximize its interests instead of picking sides," he added.