India supports Philippines’ sovereignty amid tensions in South China Sea

News Excerpt

India has expressed firm support for the Philippines’ efforts to uphold its national sovereignty amid the ongoing territorial dispute between Manila and Beijing in the South China Sea.

More about the news:

  • India’s support for the Philippines came after Beijing lodged a “serious representation” with Manila over the “illegal resupply to Ren’ai Jiao,  also known as the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands, a disputed territory between China and the Philippines.
  • Earlier Chinese coast guard ships attacked a Philippine supply boat with water cannons, damaging the ship and causing injury to its crew members. 
  • The supply boat was approaching the Second Thomas Shoal, in a disputed part of the South China Sea.

Second Thomas Shoal:

  • Second Thomas Shoal is a submerged reef located in the Spratly Islands in South China sea. 
  • The Philippines first took possession of the Shoal in 1999. 
  • The Philippine outpost on Second Thomas Shoal is the BRP Sierra Madre, a Philippine Navy transport ship intentionally grounded on the reef and maintained by a contingent of marines.

China’s claims:

  • China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, including the Second Thomas Shoal, based on the historical and controversial Nine-dash line. 
  • China’s claims cut into the EEZs of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. 
  • In 2013, the Philippines had filed a case against China with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, challenging the legality of China’s claims and activities in the South China Sea, including the Second Thomas Shoal.

India Philippines relations:

  • India and the Philippines have seen a push towards deeper defence and security cooperation in the past few years. 
    • In January 2022, the two countries signed a $375-million contract for the purchase of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles. 
    • The delivery of this system, which is the first such export order for India, will begin this year.
  • Both countries are also in talks for India to extend an enhanced line of credit for the defence and security partnership. 
  • Besides BrahMos, the Philippines is also looking at procuring a few more defence systems from India.
  • The trade between two countries has crossed $3 billion in the last year.
  • India would be undertaking "Quick Impact Projects" aimed at short-gestation, high-visibility tasks, each with a budget not exceeding $50,000. 
    • These projects will primarily focus on sectors such as agriculture, health, and capacity building, emphasising the development of physical infrastructure.

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