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IDS (Vietnam) - IDSA Bilateral Dialogue

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  • May 16, 2013

    A bilateral dialogue between IDSA and Institute for Defense Strategy (IDS) of Vietnam was held on May 16, 2013 at IDSA. The IDS delegation was headed by Lt Gen Nguyen Dinh Chien, Director General of the Institute for Defense Strategy. Dr Arvind Gupta, DG, IDSA, chaired the meeting which was also attended by IDSA scholars.

    The main points that emerged from the discussion were as follows:

    • Due to its strategic importance, the South China Sea issue has become one of the focus areas and has attracted the attention of the international community. Amongst the issues, the territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands is perceived as the most complicated issue.
    • China’s maritime strategy roadmap consists of:
      • 2012-2020: Concentrating on restraining the escalation or outbreak of maritime issues; maintaining the status quo; accomplishing maritime mechanisms and regulations, formulating policies and laws in order to facilitate taking back islands and reefs.
      • 2021-2040: Using the national comprehensive strength, and seeking ways to resolve important maritime issues (like the East Sea) and realise the goal of becoming a regional maritime power.
      • 2041-2050: Comprehensive resolution of the maritime issue, fulfilling the dream of reunification of the country and becoming a world maritime power.
    • China is rapidly modernizing its armed forces, especially its navy, by putting the first aircraft carrier and the new generation submarines into service; expanding naval base in Sanya and reinforcing the strength of the South Sea Fleet. China has been taking steps to assert its sovereignty in the area unilaterally demarcated by the so called “nine dotted line”, turning a non-disputed area into a disputed one. China has also provoked Southeast Asian countries and created partial conflicts in order to attract the public concerns and attracted the attention of international community.
    • The reinforcement of military capability of China has raised anxiety levels among the countries in the region. In the last 20 years since 1992, China’s defence budget had increased 20 times, reached 670 billion RMB (US$ 106.4 billion). China’s PLA modernisation has compelled other countries to raise their defence budget, which may lead to an arms race in the region. For the South Sea Fleet, China has put some large destroyers equipped with new and advanced weapons into service; enhanced the training of naval air force personnel, including fielding the first aircraft carrier Liaoning. China has also planned to build more aircraft carriers, destroyers and missile frigates in order to realize its ambition of becoming a maritime power. Recently, China has intensified naval patrols in the East Sea within the “nine dotted line” in order to affirm China’s sovereignty at sea.
    • It was emphasised that as a responsible power, India feels the South China Sea issue should be resolved amicably and Indian leaders have been supporting the idea of peaceful resolution of the dispute.
    • India has substantial stakes in the South China Sea as Indian companies have invested in Vietnam’s oil and gas exploration ventures. For India, the prime objectives include safety of Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC) and freedom of navigation.

    (Report prepared by Dr. Rahul Mishra, Research Assistant, IDSA)