At the East Asia Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the need for an Indo-Pacific region where international law, including the UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea), was equally applicable to all countries, where there was freedom of navigation and overflight, as well as where there was unrestricted legal commerce for the benefit of all. This was in response to Chinese claims in the South China Sea.
“India believes that the Code of Conduct for South China Sea should be effective and in accordance with UNCLOS,” he said.
India had joined the Philippines in publicly requesting China to abide by a 2016 legally binding ruling that strongly refuted Beijing's expansion claims in its dispute with the south-east Asian nation over South China Sea (SCS) waters in June, reinforcing the call for a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
The Philippines, along with Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, has also protested China’s map displaying its disputed claims.
With the Myanmar crisis dominating the agenda of Asean, which has strongly condemned the “one-sided’’ violence perpetrated by the junta, Modi said India’s policy in Myanmar took into account Asean’s views. At the same time, he added, as a neighbouring country, ensuring peace and security on the borders and enhancing India-Asean connectivity was also India’s focus. “Peace, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region are in the interest of us all,” Modi said.
Modi also said there was unison in the vision of India and Asean for the Indo-Pacific and that Asean held a central position in the vision of Quad. “The positive agenda of Quad complements with the various mechanisms of Asean,” he said.