Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Cambodia on Wednesday the ongoing ASEAN-China negotiations on the code of conduct in the South China Sea should be fully consistent with international law and not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of nations not party to these discussions.

Singh’s apprehensions at the 9th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting plus comes a day after US Vice President Kamala Harris stated that the Biden administration stands by the Philippines that is encountering intimidation and coercion in the South China Sea, perhaps hinting at China.

Peaceful resolution

The Ministry of Defence issued a statement saying Singh in his address asserted that “India advocates a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region and calls for peaceful resolution of disputes while respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations”.

He stated that the meet is taking place when the world is seeing increasing strife amplified by disruptive politics. “A peaceful Indo-Pacific, with ASEAN at its centre, becomes vital more than ever for the security and prosperity of the world,” he said to the gathering of representatives from ten countries of ASEAN and 8 others.

Collective response

The Defence Minister sought a collective response against terror. “The gravest threat requiring urgent and resolute intervention by the international community is transnational and cross-border terrorism. Indifference can no longer be a response as terrorism has found victims globally,” he pointed out.

Singh drew the attention of his counterparts on the use of smart technology by terrorists which is posing further challenges. “The transformation of cyber-crimes into organised cyber-attacks point to the increasing use of new technologies, by both, State and non-State actors,” he said.

He informed the ASEAN that the United Nations Security Council Committee on Counter-terrorism met in New Delhi last month and adopted the Delhi Declaration to counter the use of new and emerging technologies .