India Joins Naval Drill in South China Sea

India’s naval forces joined those of the US, Japan and the Philippines to conclude their first-ever joint naval drill in the South China Sea on Thursday, prompting censure from China, which claims sovereignty over the resource-rich marine region.

The Indian Navy joined the exercise as part of its commitment to operate with like-minded nations to ensure a safe maritime environment through enhanced interoperability.

The week-long naval drill involved a Japanese aircraft carrier, a US destroyer, two Indian naval ships and a Philippine patrol vessel. The Indian ships that took part were the INS Kolkata and INS Shakti.

“The ships undertook various exercises en route, which included formation manoeuvring, replenishment runs, cross-deck flying and the exchange of Sea Riders. The Group Sail exercise with the naval ships of Japan, the Philippines and the United States showcased India’s commitment to operating with like-minded nations to ensure a safe maritime environment through enhanced interoperability,” an Indian government press release read.

Reacting to the development, the Chinese foreign ministry said that the countries should not indulge in any action that undermines peace and stability in the region.

“As a principle, relevant countries’ policies on and actions in a region should be serving, instead of undermining, the region’s peace, stability and development,” Geng Shuang, spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry said.

The joint naval drill comes days after the US guided-missile destroyers Preble and Chung Hoon trespassed in the adjacent territorial waters of Nanxun Jiao and Chigua Jiao, two of China’s Nansha Islands, without permission from the Chinese government. The US action angered China, which said that the US move infringed upon its sovereignty.

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