There is a clear rule in diplomacy- the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And who knows it better than Vietnam and India. The two countries remain amongst the fiercest of China’s enemies and now they are getting together to give the paper Dragon a bloody nose. They have signed a defence pact that will send shivers down China’s spine.
So, what is this pact all about and what is bringing India and Vietnam closer? Let’s find this out.
Vietnam- the eternal enemy China hates
You must have read about the Chinese propaganda about the superiority of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). But do you know that China had actually lost the last war it fought? The Chinese Army was actually crushed in a humiliating defeat in 1979. But who defeated it? If you think it was perhaps a western power, you could not be further from the truth. It was Vietnam.
It was only after this war that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) started a grand campaign to celebrate the so-called superiority of its military forces and drive a strong narrative about PLA’s so called strength.
Today, Vietnam is one of China’s biggest rivals in the Indo-Pacific region. It has been stealing most of the businesses exiting China and has been able to pocket most of the Japanese companies relocating to newer destinations after the COVID-19 Pandemic outbreak.
So, it isn’t a matter of surprise if China still hates Vietnam.
India, the aspiring superpower that wants to cut China to size
On the other hand, India is emerging as an aspiring superpower that can do anything to cut China to size.
Only recently, India got engaged in border tussles with China and gave the Chinese PLA or as we like to call them China’s little emperors, a bloody nose. India has also been kicking out Chinese businesses and reducing its trade ties with China. And now, New Delhi is simply looking for ways to contain the Chinese in the Indo-Pacific.
So, both Vietnam and India have a reason to band together and surround the paper dragon in its own backyard.
The military pact that is sending shivers down China’s spine
Now that I have set the background of Indo-Vietnam relations, let’s see what the two countries are actually doing. They have signed a vision document to expand the “scope and scale” of defence ties by 2030. The two sides have also secured a mutual logistics support pact that would allow the military forces of the two sides to use each other’s defence bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, “Had an excellent meeting with General Phan Van Giang, the Defence Minister of Vietnam. We renewed interactions on expanding bilateral cooperation. Our close Defence and Security cooperation is an important factor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Had an excellent meeting with General Phan Van Giang, the Defence Minister of Vietnam. We renewed interactions on expanding bilateral cooperation. Our close Defence and Security cooperation is an important factor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region. pic.twitter.com/lI0RCDHZbU
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) June 8, 2022
The two countries also agreed on early finalisation of the $500 million defence Line of Credit (LoC) by New Delhi to Hanoi.
India is therefore getting bullish on better defence ties with Vietnam. Remember, Vietnam shares contentious disputes with China in the South China Sea. India itself has several oil exploration projects in Vietnamese waters in the South China Sea and has been boosting maritime security cooperation with Vietnam despite China’s objections.
Now, the latest military pact implies that India can shore up its military presence in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, in case it wants to hit back at China’s expansionist attempts in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Conversely, Vietnam too can cooperate with India in the Indian Ocean Region, in order to undermine China’s position in the region.
In the end, it is China that is getting isolated and surrounded in both the IOR and the South China Sea region. The military pact between New Delhi and Vietnam is thus likely to send shivers down China’s spine.
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