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Fearing China, Vietnam Seeks ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ With India

Vietnamese Ambassador to India, Pham Sanh Chau, recently made a ‘courtesy call’ to Indian foreign secretary Harsh Shringla, about flaring tensions with Vietnam, after China deployed its H-6J bomber to the Woody Island, the largest of the disputed Paracel Islands. 

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Vietnam claims the Paracel Islands as its own and described the deployment as it didn’t just violate its sovereignty but also “jeopardized peace”.

“The fact that relevant sides sent weapons and bombers … not only violates Vietnam’s sovereignty but also jeopardizes the situation in the area,” ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said earlier at a briefing. 

During the call to Shringla, Vietnam’s Ambassador Chau updated him on the latest flare-up with Beijing and also expressed his country’s determination to advance “strong Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” with India.

According to reports, the two sides discussed China’s belligerence in the South China Sea. Chinese state media, Global Times (GT), said quoting an expert that the move would enable the “People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to suppress and jam provocative US military activities in the region, and its weapons load, potentially including anti-ship ballistic missiles, providing a huge deterrence to US aircraft carriers.”

Despite opposition from China, Vietnam has sought India’s greater role in exploring oil and gas blocks off its coast in the South China Sea saying that the area falls in its economic zone.

Earlier India had extended a $100 million Line of Credit (LOC) to Vietnam to help acquire Patrol boats. It has also announced another $500 million LOC for Hanoi to help it procure military equipment from India.

New Delhi has also taken a firm stand against growing Chinese expansion. Similar to how India has accused China of unitarily trying to alter the status quo at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, Vietnam and other South Asian nations have accused China of doing the same in the South China Sea. The US has also accused Beijing of treating the South China Sea as its “maritime empire”. 

Earlier, at a meeting with Indian Ambassador Pranay Verma in Hanoi on August 4, Tran Quoc Vuong, Politburo member and permanent member of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat, emphasized to enhance ties between Vietnam and India.

Vuong congratulated India on winning a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council and praised Modi governments’ support for Vietnam as ASEAN Chair 2020 and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council during the term 2020-2021.

Appreciating New Delhi’s stance on the East Sea issue, Vuong reemphasized Vietnam’s unwavering position that all parties should resolve East Sea disputes by peaceful means and uphold the international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

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