In the Southeast Asia Sea, a Chinese Warning to an Indian Vessel
Beijing has found yet another competitor to its claims in the South China Sea. This time, the recipient of its aggressive antics is India, China’s large neighbour to the southwest. During its friendly visit to Vietnam, the Indian naval vessel INS Airavat received a radio signal from someone who claimed to be from the Chinese Navy. Officials in India have said that the man on the radio sent a warning to the Indian vessel, claiming that they were entering “Chinese waters,” demanding identification and an explanation from the vessel for its presence in the area.
Although the act did not spark a military confrontation between China and India, it clearly signifies China’s assertive claims over these open waters. Like other nations, India believes in freedom of navigation through these waters, in accordance to the guidelines of international law. China however, rejects the agreements and guidelines set by international law and UNCLOS, exerting their claims to the entire Sea of Southeast Asia.
It would be interesting to note that the INS Airavat did not even trek toward Chinese waters. The Indian vessel was navigating off the coast of Vietnam, 45 nautical miles off the port of Nha Trang, heading to Hai Phong for a port call. Judging by what is shown, it would be fair to argue that although the Chinese sent the signal to the Indian vessel, it was also intended as a shot towards the Vietnamese. This incident took place on July 22, 2011, off the coastal province of Nha Trang, Vietnam.