Sovereignty shouldn’t be sacrificed

Rear Admiral Karambir Singh, Vice Chief of Staff of the Indian Navy told the annual Galle Naval Dialogue here on Monday, that international cooperation for ensuring maritime security should not be at the cost of national sovereignty.

“Nations should strive for self-governance and self sufficiency and not go for quick fix solutions which could compromise their independence,” Adm.Singh said.

“Looking for quick fix solutions may lead to situations in which the strategic autonomy of a nation becomes dependent on external crutches. We should have a long term perspective so that the freedom to govern our destinies is retained within us.”

The Indian Admiral called for a “genuine spirit of equality and respect for each other’s sovereignty,” in approaching international maritime security issues.

India believes in “non-invasive” cooperation with other countries, which entails a concern to ensure “local ownership,” he said.

Adm.Singh proposed a multi-layered approach to maritime security. The first layer should be a national structure. This can be strengthened with bilateral structures of cooperation, which will the second layer. The third layer will be a regional paradigm, and the fourth and the final layer, will be an international structure of cooperation.

He referred to new “hybrid” forms of maritime security issues, and, interestingly, pointed out the emergence of new threat – that of terrorists using “mass migrations.”

dm. Singh said that a part of the emerging scenario is the “large scale migration or relocation of radical elements.”

Like other speakers at the dialogue said, Adm.Singh also laid stress on the need to evolve national and international legal systems to deal with maritime security issues. The question as to what should a navy do after an offender is apprehended at sea is not settled yet.

US Perspective

In a veiled reference to the actions of China in the South China Sea, the US delegate, Adm.Scott W.Swift, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, said that there should be no scope for actions based on the dictum “might is right” in matters of maritime security.

He asserted that the US believes in cooperation and respect for the equality of all nations and not coercion.

Adm. Swift called for “inclusive dialogues where the size and strength of the participating countries would not matter”.

China’s Position

The Chinese delegate, Rear Admiral Cui Yuzhong, Deputy Commander of the PLA Navy Eastern Sea, painted a grim picture of the maritime security situation.

He said: “ Disputes between some countries over maritime rights and interests cannot be solved for a long time. Regional conflicts and international terrorist activities rise one after another. Overall mutual trust of the international community in the security field is not sufficient.”

“Facing these risks, challenges and threats, we in China hold that the international community should adhere to the concept of building a community based on a shared future for mankind in order to effectively promote coordinated action capability, tackle maritime threats and challenges and jointly handle the global oceans.”

“The global oceans should be governed by all related sides. The development of oceans should be shared by all nations. China’s 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road is put forward on the basis of this concept. We hope to build an all-dimensional, multi-levelled and wide-ranging  blue partnership to achieve mutual development through policy communication, facilities connection, smooth trade, financing, and shared morale.”

“I believe only through development can we eliminate the maritime security threats,” Adm.Cui said.

“We advocate a new concept of maritime security. The core of this concept is common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.”

“Common security” focuses on coordination to safeguard maritime security and share the well-being brought by maritime security. “Comprehensive security” means adopting policies in a comprehensive way to solve traditional and non-traditional maritime security problems. “Cooperative security” attaches great importance to joint actions and mutual help to achieve mutual benefit and win-win. “Sustainable development” means that we balance security with development, deepen convergence of interest, and achieve the benign interaction,” the Chinese delegate said.

“We solve disputes through peaceful consultation. The principle of peacefully solving the international disputes, determined by the United Nations Charter, is a lesson learned by mankind after painful experiences from the two World Wars. It has been proved by both history and reality that consultation is an effective policy for ironing out differences, and political negotiation is the fundamental approach for solving disputes.”

“The Chinese government adheres consistently to solving maritime disputes through peaceful consultation, and the Chinese people are deeply convinced that only a peaceful maritime order can facilitate the global prosperity and development” he added.(

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