Indian Navy Bolsters Maritime Cooperation With Philippines Amid South China Sea Tensions, Deploys 3 Warships

(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) New Delhi:
Against the backdrop of China's ongoing territorial disputes with neighboring nations, the Indian Navy has launched a maritime partnership exercise with its Philippine counterpart by deploying three warships in the contentious South China Sea.

The Indian Navy ships INS Delhi, INS Shakti, and INS Kiltan arrived in Manila, Philippines, on Sunday to bolster the longstanding friendship and maritime cooperation between the two countries in the Indian Ocean Region.

“The ships were accorded a warm welcome by the Philippines Navy. The visit is part of Operational Deployment of the Indian Navy's Eastern Fleet to South China Sea,” Indian Navy PRO Commander Vivek Madhwal said.

These warships are part of a long-leg operational deployment led by Rear Admiral Rajesh Dhankhar, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet.

Prior to this, the ships operated in Singaporean, Malaysian, and Vietnamese waters, conducting exercises with their navies to further enhance interoperability and exchange best practices.

“This visit is poised to strengthen the longstanding friendship and cooperation between the two maritime nations through a series of engagements,” Madhwal said.

Maritime Security Scholar Dr Pooja Bhatt told Asianet Newsable,“India Philippines Naval exercises under Maritime Partnership Exercise demonstrates that the bilateral relationship has transitioned to practical cooperation in the maritime domain. It reiterates New Delhi's support of Manila's sovereignty in the South China Sea waters as well as its operational reach into the region."

INS Delhi is a guided missile destroyer, INS Shakti a replenishment fleet tanker, and INS Kiltan an anti-submarine warfare corvette.

The long-leg operational deployment of these warships is significant as the South China Sea region has been experiencing tensions due to contested maritime boundaries, including islands and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Beijing asserts its claims based on historical rights, leading to standoffs between China's People's Liberation Army Navy and US-backed Philippine naval ships.

China has been resisting the Philippines' claim over the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. Beijing claims most of the territories in the South China Sea, while the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan have their own claims.

During his visit to Manila in March 2024, India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar co-chaired the 5th meeting of the joint commission on bilateral cooperation with the Philippines' Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Enrique A. Manalo.

The two sides issued a joint statement in which Jaishankar expressed New Delhi's full support for the Philippines in upholding its national sovereignty, amid the ongoing dispute over the South China Sea, also known as the West Philippine Sea.

In 2023, New Delhi and Manila also called for Beijing to adhere to the rules-based global maritime order and acknowledge the 2016 International Court of Justice ruling in favor of Manila.


AsiaNet News

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