Today, the realities of the South China Sea have changed so drastically that we’re dealing with a whole new reality that is nothing like what we used to analyse or discuss. The tensions within this region were purely local in their nature and concerned China and its immediate neighbors, but now it’s obvious that those have evolved into a matter of global security. All the previous evaluations professing a swift settlement of all issues on the back of the cultural unity and common mentality of the parties involved in the conflict turned out to be absolutely wrong. What transpired here is unlike anything that we could have anticipated.
In recent years, the Indo-Pacific region has become a major attraction for all sorts of investors due to its economic potential. After all, it’s the region of some of the world’s most crucial sea routes that are stretching from China, Japan, South Korea, Russia to the west coast of the United States. An unparalled number of commodities is being shipped along these routes every year.
On the one hand, the lack of firm boundaries within the region and vast expanses of water facilitate trade and connect peoples, countries and continents, but on the other, these routes remain exposed to all sorts of meddling, which means that one has to invest an extensive amount of efforts to protect them. This is the common goal of all the countries of the Indo-Pacific region and, above all, the countries of ASEAN and India, which are located at critical interjunctions of the trade routes. India and the ASEAN member-states share a common reliance on these oceans and their connecting seas, and a common perspective that supports openness, inclusion, sharing and peaceful cooperation. Their common goals are maintenance of peace, stability and security, unimpeded lawful commerce, freedom of navigation, along with the preservation of marine resources. All these is the base of India’s and ASEAN’s policy towards maritime security and connectivity and stable peace and development.
Another important point that is that the Indo-Pacific region is a region of historical cultural and political interpenetration, as a number of local states derived their governing principles from the Indian heritage and culture. Even if it creates additional difficulties, it just as well creates preconditions for mutual cooperation and integration within this region.