Modi in Singapore – Oceans should not become new theatres of contests: PM on South China Sea row

New Delhi(PTI): Amid a standoff between China and some East Asian nations over South China Sea, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said oceans, space and cyberworld should not become “new theatres of contests” but be the avenues of “shared prosperity” and offered to work in this direction. Delivering a lecture here, he talked about how India and China have kept their border region peaceful and stable despite the “unresolved issues”, including the boundary question between the two countries.

PM Modi

“In the flux and transition of our times, the most critical need in this region is to uphold and strengthen the rules and norms that must define our collective behaviour,” he said. “…We must all come together, in East Asia Summit and other forums, to build a cooperative and collaborative future, not on the strength of a few, but on the consent of all,” Modi said in his 20-minute ’37th Singapore Lecture — India’s Singapore Story’ — soon after his arrival on a two-day visit.

In an apparent reference to the standoff between China and some East Asian Nations over South China Sea, he said, “India will work with countries in the region and beyond, including the US and Russia, our East Asia Summit partners, to ensure that our commons – ocean, space and cyber remain avenues of shared prosperity, not become new theatres of contests.” The statement is significance as tensions are growing over South China Sea with the US now getting involved and China warning it to keep away.

Prime Minister Modi said India and China will engage constructively across the complexity of their relationship as two self-assured and confident nations, aware of their interests and responsibilities. “Just as China’s rise has driven the global economy, the world looks to China to help advance global and regional peace and stability,” he said.

Noting that India and China constitute two-fifth of humanity and two of the world’s fastest growing major economies, Modi said, “China’s economic transformation is an inspiration for us.”

“As it (China) rebalances its economy, and as India steps up the pace of its growth, we can both reinforce each other s progress. And, we can advance stability and prosperity in our region,” Modi said, adding that both the nations together can be more effective in addressing the common global challenges, from trade to climate change. Prime Minister Modi also called for delinking terrorism from religion and said it does not just take a toll of lives, but can derail economies. “Nations must cooperate more with each other. Societies must reach out within and to each other. We must delink terrorism from religion, and assert the human values that define every faith,” he added.

Noting that terrorism’s shadow stretches across societies and nations, both in recruitment and choice of targets, Modi said the world must speak in one voice and act in unison. “There will be political, legal, military and intelligence efforts. But, we must do more,” he asserted. “Countries also must be held accountable for sanctuaries, support, arms and funds,” he said.

Though he did not name any country, his mention about sanctuaries was an apparent reference to Pakistan where several terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Haqqani Network are based and nurtured by the establishment.

Talking about next week’s Climate Summit, Modi said, “We are a few days away from Paris, where we must achieve concrete outcome, in accordance with the principles of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is especially important for our region, particularly the small island states.” Modi also promised a greater role for Singapore in India’s growth story and said the city-state will be a major trading partner for India.

The Prime Minister said he was conscious of the fact that he was following the footsteps of leaders who have shaped India in delivering this lecture. “Destiny of India and Singapore are deeply linked.” Before Modi, other Indian leaders who have delivered the annual Singapore Lecture of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute include former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, former Prime Ministers P V Narsimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“Few countries can celebrate the first fifty years of existence with a sense of pride and satisfaction that Singapore deserves to. And, I can do no better than to begin with homage to one of the tallest leaders of our time and the architect of modern Singapore Lee Kuan Yew,” Modi said. “For me, he was a personal inspiration. From his Singapore Stories, I drew many lessons,” he added.

“Singapore is a nation that has become a metaphor for reality of dreams. The lack of resources is no constraint for inspiration, imagination and innovation,” he added. “It has inspired this region’s progress and led in its integration,” Modi said, adding that Singapore’s success became an aspiration for Indians. “And, in turn, India became the hope for a more peaceful, balanced and stable world.”

Noting that India and Singapore have been together at many crossroads of time, Modi said, “We stood together at the dawn of freedom…Singapore success has become India’s springboard to the world and gateway to the East.” “We have comprehensive defence and security cooperation. Singapore is the biggest investment source,” Modi said.

Starting from the first IT park in Bengaluru, the partnership has now moved to the newest city of Amaravathi, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, he noted. “We are linked by geography and history in case of each ASEAN member. We look forward to a more dynamic partnership between India and ASEAN,” the Prime Minister said.

Posted by on November 23, 2015. Filed under World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.