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Aero India 2023

Asia-Pacific navies sign maritime communication agreement

BEIJING (PTI): India and 21 other countries on Tuesday adopted an agreement aimed at ensuring that miscommunication between naval vessels does not develop into conflict in the Pacific Ocean.

Naval chiefs of several countries attended the biennial conference of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) which opened in the eastern Chinese port of Qingdao on Tuesday.

The Indian Navy was represented at the meet by Rear Admiral S N Ghormade.

The meeting agreed to work to prevent miscommunication between naval vessels that could result in hostilities in the Pacific Ocean which is increasingly becoming a centre of conflict due to escalating disputes between China and its neighbours including Japan and some of the ASEAN nations over disputed islands in the East and South China Seas.

The agreement outlines how naval ships should communicate and manoeuvre when they unexpectedly come into contact in sea lanes surrounding China, Japan and Southeast Asia, officials said.

The 21-member WPNS which includes the US, China, Japan, the Philippines and Malaysia who have strategic interests in the Western Pacific region unanimously approved the framework.

Xu Hongmeng, vice admiral in China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy said the agreement would have a positive impact on maritime conduct but would not make much of an impact in the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas.

"You can't say that it's related to the issues in the South and East China Sea - this is about the navies of many countries. This will not influence those issues," he said on the sidelines of the meeting.

For over a year, naval ships of China and Japan patrolled the waters of the disputed islands in the East China Sea asserting their control raising the risk of conflict.

The WPNS was established in 1987 with goals to promote cooperation between the navies of its member countries, strengthen mutual understanding and trust, and jointly safeguard regional maritime security.

It comprises navies whose countries border the Pacific Ocean region.

The WPNS now has 21 member states, including Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the US and Vietnam with India as an observer.

China is one of the WPNS' founding members.

The Qingdao symposium is the first biennial meet to be hosted by China.

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