Lorenzana: India wants presence felt in South China Sea

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said India has expressed its intent to carry out navigation activities in the South China Sea. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 2, 2020) — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said India has expressed its intent to carry out navigation activities in the South China Sea.

In an online forum on Thursday, Lorenzana said navigation in the South China Sea is open to all countries.

"We do not prevent other countries from passing through or doing things there in China Sea. The British do passes through the China Sea. The French, all other countries. We do not invite them to come," he said.

Lorenzana, however, said Indian presence in the area may add to complications in the disputed waters. China has a long-standing border dispute with India.

"If they (India) want to come, it's OK with us. But at the same time, if they come, they will be increasing the tension in the area," Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana, meanwhile, said China's naval exercises in the South China Sea are a cause for a concern.

Reports earlier stated that China's naval exercise in the disputed Paracel Islands showcases its capability to storm and seize islands.

Lorenzana said China can conduct war games within its exclusive economic zone, but doing them in contested areas is highly provocative.

"That is very concerning... If they did it in the part of the South China Sea then it's okay. But if they're doing it in the contested areas, then that will sound the alarm bells for all the claimants here in the South China Sea," Lorenzana said.