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India has deployed warships to the South China Sea this month, in a move seen by analysts as a subtle message to China about the importance of respecting international law. While there’s a potential for China to react aggressively, observers in New Delhi say countries in the region have welcomed India’s presence.

Three Indian vessels, the guided-missile destroyer INS Delhi, fleet tanker INS Shakti, and anti-submarine corvette INS Kiltan, arrived in Singapore on May 6th. Indian Navy spokesman Commander Vivek Madhwal stated the purpose was to strengthen “friendship and cooperation.”

The INS Kiltan later continued its journey to Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay on May 12th for exchanges and a joint maritime exercise with the Vietnamese navy. Meanwhile, the INS Delhi and INS Shakti reached Malaysia’s Kota Kinabalu on the same day to participate in separate maritime drills.

This deployment by India coincides with Germany sending two warships to the Indo-Pacific region on May 7th. German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius highlighted the aim as demonstrating a “presence in the Indo-Pacific in support of the international rules-based order” in the face of growing tensions.