International

East Asia Summit Must Be Committed To Free And Open Indo-Pacific: EAM Jaishankar

Speaking at the 13th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers Meeting here, he said India firmly supports the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and its implementation through EAS.

S. Jaishankar at Student Samvaad
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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday the East Asia Summit must be committed to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, in a veiled attack on China.

Speaking at the 13th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers Meeting here, he said India firmly supports the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and its implementation through EAS. "EAS must be committed to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific, with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said.

The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region, comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea. The US, India and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.

China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea.

"There is great synergy between the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) proposed by India and AOIP," Jaishankar said. "Quad will always complement ASEAN and ASEAN-led mechanisms. AOIP contributes to the vision of the Quad. India affirms ASEAN centrality in the Indo-Pacific and advocates the strengthening of the EAS," he said.

China and its diplomats have been attacking the Indo-Pacific concept from the beginning, claiming that it is aimed at containing Beijing. Beijing has also been attacking the Quad grouping, saying building small cliques and stoking bloc confrontation is the real threat to a peaceful, stable and cooperative maritime order. The Quad comprises India, the US, Japan and Australia.

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