March 8, 2015 by Dinakar Peri - thehindu.com
Reiterating that India-U.S. partnership is a “key component” of America’s “rebalance” to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, a top U.S. Admiral last week expressed concern over China’s increased “assertiveness” in enforcing its claims in the South China Sea and supported India’s increased role in the region under the principles of open sea lanes and freedom of navigation.
During the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to India in January, both sides signed a strategic vision document, “U.S.-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region,” which specifically referred to safeguarding maritime security in the South China Sea. It had not gone down well with Beijing.
“The South China seas are international waters and India should be able to operate freely wherever India wants to operate. If that means the South China Sea, then get in there and do that,” said Admiral Harry Harris, Commander US Pacific Fleet while speaking at the National Maritime Foundation.
At the same time, the Admiral described China’s naval presence in the Indian Ocean as “positive” as it was involved in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.