(From PTI)

Amid a stand-off between China and some East Asian nations over the South China Sea, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the oceans, space and cyber world should not become “new theatres of contests” but be the avenues of “shared prosperity” and offered to work in this direction.

Indian PM Narendra Modi having tea with his Singapore counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, at Little India, Singapore.

Delivering a lecture, he talked about how India and China have kept their border region peaceful and stable despite the “unresolved issues”, including the boundary question between the two countries.

“In the flux and transition of our times, the most critical need in this region is to uphold and strengthen the rules and norms that must define our collective behavior,” he said.

“…We must all come together, in East Asia Summit and other forums, to build a cooperative and collaborative future, not on the strength of a few, but on the consent of all,” Modi said in his 20-minute speech — the ‘37th Singapore Lecture – India’s Singapore Story’.

“India will work with countries in the region and beyond, including the US and Russia, our East Asia Summit partners, to ensure that our commons — ocean, space and cyber — remain avenues of shared prosperity, not become new theatres of contests.”

 Modi said India and China will engage constructively across the complexity of their relationship as two self-assured and confident nations, aware of their interests and responsibilities.

“Just as China’s rise has driven the global economy, the world looks to China to help advance global and regional peace and stability,” he said.

Modi also called for delinking terrorism from religion and said it does not just take a toll of lives, but can derail economies.

“Nations must cooperate more with each other. Societies must reach out within and to each other. We must delink terrorism from religion, and assert the human values that define every faith,” he added.

Modi also promised a greater role for Singapore in India’s growth story and said the city-state will be a major trading partner for India. “Destinies of India and Singapore are deeply linked,” he said.

The Prime Minister said he was conscious of the fact that he was following the footsteps of leaders who have shaped India in delivering this lecture.

“Few countries can celebrate the first fifty years of existence with a sense of pride and satisfaction that Singapore deserves to. And, I can do no better than to begin with homage to one of the tallest leaders of our time and the architect of modern Singapore — Lee Kuan Yew,” Modi said.

“For me, he was a personal inspiration. From his Singapore Stories, I drew many lessons,” he added.

Singapore is a nation that has become a metaphor for reality of dreams. The lack of resources is no constraint for inspiration, imagination and innovation, he added.

“It has inspired this region’s progress and led in its integration,” he said, adding that Singapore’s success became an aspiration for Indians. “And, in turn, India became the hope for a more peaceful, balanced and stable world.”

Noting that India and Singapore have been together at many crossroads of time, Modi said, “We stood together at the dawn of freedom…Singapore success has become India’s springboard to the world and gateway to the East.”

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