Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday strongly hinted that China should abide by international laws and respect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
Speaking at the East Asia Summit in the Myanmar capital of Naw Pyi, he said, "In a world of inter-dependence and globalisation, there is no option but to follow international laws and norms.
''This also applies to maritime security. For this reason, following international law and norms is important for peace and stability in the South China Sea as well.''
He pointed to the 1982 UN Convention on Law of the Sea, which he said should be the basis for resolving disputes peacefully. ''We also hope that the efforts to conclude a code of conduct on South China Sea by a process of consensus would be successful soon," Modi said, clearly referring to China's aggressive strategy in the region where India has considerable economic and strategic interests.
He had echoed similar sentiments at the India-ASEAN Summit on Wednesday. Modi told members of the East Asia Summit that the region has a number of complex and unresolved questions in the area of security.
"There is a need for a serious and sustained dialogue to strengthen the climate of understanding and confidence among all stakeholders in the region," he suggested.
Pointing out that the challenges of terrorism and extremism have increased, Modi said, "We support the East Asia Summit Declaration on the Islamic State ... we should also reject any linkage between religion and terrorism."
Later in the day Modi met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the sidelines of East Asia Summit to discuss issues of bilateral interest. Li invited Modi to visit China, saying he looks forward to seeing him in Beijing.