China, the United States and India are set to stage a high-level naval confrontation in the South China sea, the latest in a series of maritime disputes that have raised the stakes in a region where tensions between countries have spiked over the past few years.
China is not expected to sign the defence pact, which would have allowed the US to deploy warships on its own land, as part of the alliance’s annual exercise, a Defence Ministry statement said on Friday.
But the US and India have been pressing the US for years to sign an accord that would give it the right to deploy the largest conventional naval force in the world, the US Navy’s official website said.US President Donald Trump has made a series or “strategic” moves in recent months to pressure China over the South Chinese Sea, particularly on issues such as freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight and freedom of transit.
India has said it will not accept China’s territorial claims to parts of the sea and has protested at China’s build-up in the area, including its build-ups of artificial islands, as well as its militarisation of disputed islands in the disputed Paracel Islands and reefs in the Paracels.
Indian warships have already come under fire from China in the region, with Beijing last week firing missiles at two warships in the waters, an Indian naval official said.