India-Vietnam Relations

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  • India in Vietnam’s Foreign Policy

    The upgrading of Vietnam–India relations from partnership (2003) to strategic partnership (2007) and a comprehensive strategic partnership (2016) is not merely the result of India’s Look/Act East Policy. It also reflects Vietnam’s high appreciation of the Indian factor in its foreign policy since the Southeast Asian country promoted multilateralism and diversification in its international relations.

    January 2020

    Kumar Saurav asked: To counter the ‘string of pearls’, what is the position of India on the Vietnamese offer of a naval base?

    Sarabjeet Singh Parmar replies: The usage of a facility by a foreign military is often misconstrued as an offer for a military base. Therefore, in the first instance, the difference between having a base and availing of facilities must be clearly understood. In the traditional sense, a base would imply that the host nation has offered land with or without infrastructure to another nation to use as a base. The modalities of usage depend on the understanding or agreement signed by the two nations as is the case with the US and the nations where it has bases. That base could then be viewed as belonging to the invitee nation.

    In the existing world order, the pressures that a nation would have to face for inviting a foreign military presence would be tremendous. Therefore, the setting up of military bases in another nation, in the traditional sense, could be viewed as difficult if not improbable. Nautically speaking, availing of port facilities means that ships of any nation are welcome to dock at the port for refuelling and taking on supplies. Such a visit would be at the discretion of the host nation and would depend on the relations the host nation has with the visiting nation.

    As per reports, the Vietnamese had planned to develop the facilities, including repair, at Camh Ran Bay for use by foreign ships, but no offer has been made by Vietnam to any nation to develop it as a naval base in the traditional sense of the term. Ships of the Indian Navy have visited ports of Vietnam earlier, and it was also the first navy whose ship, INS Airavat, was permitted to enter the port of Nha Trang. Both Camh Ran Bay and Nha Trang are strategically located near key shipping routes in the South China Sea and are close to the potentially oil-rich Spratlys and Paracel Islands. The oil fields in which ONGC has invested in collaboration with Vietnam are also in close proximity.

    India has time and again reiterated its stand on its presence in the South China Sea, delving on the aspects of freedom of navigation, diplomatic and commercial interests. For more on India’s position, refer to an earlier response to a query on the issue, available at http://idsa.in/askanexpert/stakeforIndiaintheSouthChinaSea

    Therefore, even if India offers assistance or is requested to assist in the development of Camh Ran Bay, or any other port, it could be viewed as a purely commercial and diplomatic (including military diplomacy) endeavour and not as a counter to the “string of pearls”.

    PM’s visit to Malaysia and Vietnam

    As India deepens its strategic engagement with the countries of South East Asia, ASEAN needs to make up its mind on the mechanisms required to tackle core security issues instead of outsourcing them to a multitude of organisations.

    November 08, 2010

    India-Vietnam Relations: Need for Enhanced Cooperation

    Improved India-Vietnam relations are guided both by their common historical experiences and their mutual concerns in the post-cold war context. Both have suffered aggression from China in the past and had good relations with the former Soviet Union. In fact, India was the only non-communist country to recognize the unified Vietnam and, ever since, they have had a friendly relationship, one that has stood the test of time. However, in the post-cold war context the shadow of China looms large over this relationship.

    November 2008

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