- Vietnam’s position and approach to regional security aligns with India’s objectives.
- India has remained oblivious to Beijing’s warnings about its growing ties with Vietnam, under its Act East policy.
- China threatens Vietnam over its drilling activities in the South China Sea.
So why is Vietnam an important defense partner for India?
Defense cooperation between Vietnam and India:
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Common challenge in
Border disputes between India and China are well known, and the challenges it faces relative to its neighbors to the north and northeast are also not new.
While Vietnam also faces similar challenges from China. The two countries fought their most modern war from 1979 to 1990, over border disputes and influences from the Khmer Rouge and Cambodia.
While Vietnam had been building islands in the region for decades, China started it in 2014 but on an unprecedented scale and even put military hardware on one of these man-made islands. This had never been done by any of the countries involved in the dispute, including Vietnam.
With China’s salami-slicing policy, it continued to provoke Vietnam in the South China Sea.
Vietnam also has a number of oil and gas projects in the South China Sea. In 2017, after Chinese threats, the Vietnamese government ordered the Spanish Repsol to stop drilling in the disputed area. It was one of many incidents where China threatened Vietnam over drilling activities in the South China Sea.
Importance of Vietnam for India:
Vietnam and India have enjoyed friendly relations over decades with mutual trust and benefit. And as explained earlier, Vietnam’s position and approach to regional security also aligns with India’s goals and the broader perspective of other partners in the region to check China’s influence in the South China Sea.
India’s utilitarian interests in the SCS and the growing strategic weight of the
India-Vietnam maritime defense links:
On the other hand, for India, maritime defense ties with Vietnam serve its policy of “maritime multilateralism” to overcome transnational challenges and promote economic activities in the South China Sea.