New Delhi: India on Thursday expressed concern on recent territorial stand-off between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea and asked them to exercise restraint and resolve the issue diplomatically as per international law.

"We have been following with concern recent developments involving China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Maintenance of peace and security in the region is of vital interest to the international community.

"India urges both countries to exercise restraint and resolve the issue diplomatically according to principles of international law," official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Syed Akbaruddin said.

The standoff started on April 8 when Philippine military forces spotted Chinese fishermen taking marine species from the area. But before a crew from a Philippine Navy ship could make arrests, Chinese ships blocked the vessel's path.

After the incident Philippines said it is approaching international court of arbitration to assert its claim for exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under the international laws of seas, which irked Beijing and resulted in a warning to Manila that it should "not misjudge the situation and not escalate tensions without considering the consequences".

China claims sovereignty over the Panatag Shoal, which it refers to as Huangyan Island.

The standoff is part of a wider territorial dispute in the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei. China claims nearly the entire region, which is believed to contain large oil and natural gas deposits.

China has also raised objections to Indian exploration projects in Vietnamese oil blocks, claiming that the territory belonged to it. India has always maintained that its projects were commercial in nature and the territorial disputes should be resolved as per the international laws.


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