The matter was clarified by External Affairs Minister SM Krishna when he commented in the aftermath of China issuing a warning India to back off from oil exploration in the disputed area and claims to have exclusive rights to the oil-rich area. [Read: S China sea: China rolls eyes again; wants Ind to back off]
Krishna stated categorically that the South China sea must be free for trade to prosper. Speaking to reporters, Krishna stated, “India maintains that South China Sea is the property of the world... those trade ways must be free from any national interference. It has to be used for increasing trade related activities among nations which come within the range of the South China Sea."
He added that this fact has been been accepted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as China in their dialogue with ASEAN group of nations.
Krishna added, “India subscribes to the theory that these trade ways should be free for trade to prosper."
China had asked Delhi not to get involved in the “disputes”. Ruling out any strain in the relationship between India and China, Krishna commented, “There is absolutely no strained relation between India and China. During the BRICS summit, Chinese President Hu Jintao was in Delhi and we had very cordial talks with him and I totally reject that theory.”