Vietnam: Indian Prime Minister Modi’s Significant Visit September 2016
By Dr Subhash Kapila
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modis’ scheduled visit to Vietnam is significantly well-timed strategically and politically besides reinforcing the time-honoured Vietnam-India Strategic Partnership and making-up for the lack of an Indian Prime Ministerial visit during last 15 years.
Regrettable is the fact that India’s Congress Prime Minister from 2004-14, Dr Manmohan Singh for ten long years could not find time to visit Vietnam and honour the spirit of the Vietnam-India Strategic Partnership, with which this was found. Obviously, what seems to have been in play was India then being overly sensitive to as to what would China think and read of such a visit?
Contextually, Prime Minister Modi’s visit needs to be viewed against the backdrop of The Hague International Tribunal’s recent ruling negating China’s claims to sovereignty over the South China Sea, China vehemently opposing India’s admittance in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, China vetoing the UN resolution to declare Pakistani terrorist leader Masood Azhar as an international terrorist and China’s dismissive stance on India’s objections to routing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir legally under Indian sovereignty.
Contextually again, Prime Minister Modi’s Vietnam visit on September 3rd precedes his arrival in China the next day for the G-20 Summit. The contrast is stark in that in Vietnam the Indian Prime Minister will be welcomed as a valuable and honoured friend. In China the Indian Prime Minister would be conscious of the fact that it was only few weeks before that the Chinese President had rebuffed Prime Minister Modi’s personal outreach for China’s support on the NSG issue.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Vietnam on September 03, 2016 emerges as strategically and politically significant for two major reasons. My earlier Papers on Vietnam in the last fifteen years have consistently highlighted how high Vietnam should figure in India’s strategic calculus and does not merit repetition again. What does need emphasis in 2016 is that Vietnam has regained its ‘pivotal strategic significance’ in the strategic calculations of the United States and Japan in relation to China’s unremitting aggression in the South China Sea maritime expanse which is globally viewed as “global commons”.
Asian security today depends heavily on strategic convergences between the United States, Japan and India to counter China’s threatening military rise and propensity for dangerous and explosive military brinkmanship visible from India’s High Himalayas to the South China Sea. With US President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Abe having already visited Vietnam in recent times showing their implicit support to Vietnam bravely confronting China’s aggression in the South China Sea, the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Vietnam was long overdue......