It may have been part of India's long-term strategy to increase its maritime presence in regional waters, including the South China Sea, but the fact is that its decision to speed up it's Carrier Battle Group plan comprising aircraft carriers, guided missile destroyers and submarines to be deployed if need be is seen as an attempt to counter China's increasing aggression.
That impression has grown stronger in the light of Beijing's recent caution to New Delhi to keep away from oil exploration in South China Sea (over which China has no proprietary rights) and a warning to Vietnam - which has entered into an agreement with India for this purpose — not to get involved with “hostile forces.” China has for long laid claim to the islands that dot the South China Sea, most notably Spratly Islands, because the region is immensely rich in natural resource, especially oil.
On its part, India has maintained that the South China Sea is nobody’s property and that entering into an oil exploration deal with Vietnam is a sovereign decision. But it is unlikely that Beijing will be mollified by New Delhi’s clarification because it does not want others to share the resources that are waiting to be tapped. According to some estimates, the South China Sea could yeild up to some seven billion barrels of oil. This is estimated to be at least 80 percent the size of Saudi Arabia’s reserves. Hence, it comes as no surprise that China should be desperate to keep others, including India, Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia, from eyeing the South China Sea. But it's not just oil that is at stake here; the region straddles strategically important international trade routes. Which explains China’s reluctance to allow access to South China Sea to others. For similar reasons of global trade, the US, which otherwise has no direct stake in the South China Sea, is actively engaged in neutralising China's hold there by extending overt and covert support to countries in the region.
While all accept that no country's claim to ownership is recognised by any major international body, China is not particularly bothered about the niceties of law. It has instead chosen to try and bully others into submission. With tensions escalating, China has increased the number of ships in its Navy’s South Sea Fleet and built a new naval base at Sanya on Hainan Island.
These developments have directly contributed to Vietnam's purchase of six Kilo-class Russian conventional submarines to counter China's growing naval presence. The Philippines has hinted at increasing its naval capability and there are reports that it made its intention known to the China in the hope that Beijing will abandon its belligerent policy. Although the simmering dispute is unlikely to trigger an immediate arms race in the region, it has sparked nationalist outbursts, more so in China. On October 3, the Global Times, a Chinese state-owned newspaper, printed an editorial calling for war with Vietnam and Philippines in order to establish Beijing’s claim on the South China Sea. This may have been no more than sabre-rattling, but the editorial coupled with signals emanating from Beijing is believed to have instigated India and other countries to initiate talks with ASEAN countries from which China was excluded.
Defence News - China Plays Bully