Is India finding the perfect solution for countering the Chinese aggression.?
The tensions are high in the South China Sea, China is in full expansion mode and has shown little change in its aggressive maneuver throughout South China Sea even after repeated heated escalations with America and Japan. Chinese forces have repeatedly intercepted American and Japanese aircrafts flying in the region and each side has cried of extremely risky manoeuvres being made and this escalation has threatened to set off an International incident. China has raised alarms in India’s power corridors over its heightened presence in the backyards of India. The ‘Pearl of String’ through which China is proactively gaining a strong foothold across IOR and South China Sea has raised eyebrows not only in India but as far as in America and threatens to set off the critical balance of power which for long has been maintained in the Asian region.
Countering China is one of the foremost agendas for the nations sharing borders with it and seems countries have realized the ever growing China can’t be countered unless a mutual consent for the same is forged. America has now teamed up with Japan and Indonesia and is now looking forward have India in the fray. India is the sole nation with the ability to take on the Chinese. The smaller countries sharing borders with China have their own tales to be narrated to the International community. Vietnam, Myanmar, Loas and Nepal have faced the wrath of Chinese policies over time. The Tibetan issue has been a long standing problem for which Nepal has always been stretched by China.
South China Sea which is part of the vast Pacific Ocean has been a long contested battleground where China, Vietnam and Philippines have fought for long to have a foothold of the resource rich waters. Philippines shares a warm relationship with USA and has had the mighty US Navy at its disposal if needed. At the other end Vietnam was left in unknown waters after its long civil war in which America has memories and US been reluctant to take up Vitenam’s stand. Vietnam is looking out to India to help save the wrath of China. India had shared a warm diplomatic relation with Vietnam and since India set its agenda to counter the Chinese onset, it picked up Vietnam’s cause.
The military relationship between India and Vietnam date back to 1978, India was one of the very few nations which backed Vietnam in its war against Cambodia. A more coherent relationship was setup in 1992 and the nations agreed to setup co-operations for renewed economic ties, oil exploration projects , agriculture and manufacturing industries. India adopting the ‘Look East’ policy the defence ties between the countries received a major boost. Since then India has proactively supported Vietnam by supplying weaponry and has helped impart a higher degree of training for the Vietnam forces.
It is time India looks at renewing its presence in the troubled waters. This has been echoed by US, Admiral Harry Harris, Commander Pacific Fleet,US Navy asked India to look out for the troubled waters and went to request India’s role in crisis in International waters. Increasing its presence in the South China Sea should be one of the main agenda’s Indian Navy has to be considering but a deployment would surely draw bitter reactions from across the border, after all the area is disputed. But what the Navy can be aiming at is to conduct “Joint naval exercises” with Vietnam which could be named as a friendly gesture, under which the Vietnamese would be imparted training in naval warfare. India’s role in the resurgent Asia has been notable but not really noticeable, India needs to mark its position across the continent and has to guarantee its allies its stand be it peace time or be it a troubled situation.
India has responded to the calls by Vietnam, to boost its economy and have its share from the resource rich waters of the South China Sea Vietnam considered drilling the sea beds and exploring oil reserves. This would not only reduce its dependence other nations but would also guarantee a living for its citizens. Lacking the needed resource for the demanding project, Vietnam looked for India’s help for exploring oil. Answering Vietnam’s call, India put in charge ONGC, a PSU(Public Sector Undertaking) for helping Vietnam complete this ambitious project. ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) recently signed agreements with the Vietnamese government to setup off shore facilities which would enable the firm to explore oil blocks in the South Chinese Sea. Under the agreement Vietnam offered India two oil-exploration blocks which are located in disputed South China Sea waters, this has drawn a flank from Beijing. Wanting to make its presence felt China raised its concern through diplomatic channels and threatened any developments in the disputed waters would be delt with force.
The chosen oil blocks are in the Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone of which the Spratly Islands is an integral part. The claim of Vietnamese over these islands has been recognised by the UN but Chinese differ to this and have named the Islands as Nanshu Islands. Vietnam recently purchased the advanced Kilo class submarines from Russia which have been armed with Klub cruise missiles which can be used to nullify land based threats. Vietnam had minimal knowledge of the Submarine operations, it was again towards India that Vietnam inclined. Responding positively for Vietnam’s request, India imparted training to Vietnam submariners and made them aware of the complicated methods involved in operating a submarine.
When questioned about India’s stand towards China aggression, Indian Navy said India won't really hesitate to send its force to secure any Indian interests across the globe, be it the South China Sea or the Pacific Ocean but if India’s interests are in distress the Navy will react and it doesn’t matter to use the force.
Strengthening Vietnam’s presence in the South China Sea is one of the priorities for the Indian government. India has now opened a $100 credit line to support Vietnam’s growth. India is now planning to supply Vietnam with modern naval platforms using the credit line. Arming the Vietnamese will serve India in unique way. One for India gains a reliable partner to counter China, two to guard it’s off shore facilities which it is likely to set up with the Vietnamese. The BrahMos missile has been one of the topic which is being linked to the plans. India has acknowledged its interest in arming Vietnam with the BrahMos and if chosen, Vietnam will be the first nation to receive the world’s fastest anti-shipping missile.
Article By Karthik Kakoor