India is strengthening relations with Vietnam to expand influence in Southeast Asia. India-Vietnam strong relations will help them thwart the Chinese belligerence in the region including the contested South China Sea.
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The Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s recent visit to Vietnam has taken the relationship to a whole new level. And now, competitiveness in the South China Sea has gone up a tenth fold.
According to VOA, Vietnam and four other governments dispute Beijing’s claim to about 90 per cent of the South China Sea. Keeping this in mind, India is in talks to expand maritime security cooperation with Vietnam amid China’s belligerence in the South China Sea as well as ambitions in the Bay of Bengal. President Kovind has hinted at increasing port visits by the navies and coast guards of both the countries.
Moreover, analysts have predicted that Vietnam and India will use fuel exploration to consolidate their stand in the South China Sea. Moreover, India’s government-run – ONGC has worked with PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corp. to search for oil and gas in the same. Trung Nguyen, the director of the Centre for International Studies at Ho Chi Minh University of Social Sciences and Humanities said “I think Vietnam wants India to play a more active role in the South Asian region because Vietnam knows that India is not so active in the quadrilateral, including the US, Australia and Japan.”
Meanwhile, Maxfield Brown, a senior associate at Dezan Shira & Associates in Ho Chi Minh City said Vietnam is keen to find countries that are willing to invest in its natural resources and aren’t necessarily scared off by the threat of Chinese naval incursions. As per VOA Repsol, a Spanish driller quit a Vietnamese-approved project in the South China Sea in March this year because of Chinese pressure.
India and Vietnam’s strengthening relations and collaborations will no doubt pinch China. Asian security experts have noted that Beijing has been protesting against joint Vietnamese-Indian oil exploration activities in the South China Sea for almost a decade, but New Delhi has refused to budge. Can India set up a Naval base in Vietnam just like they are working on Sabang port in Indonesia is to be seen?
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