The defence agreement India and Vietnam have signed during Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to New Delhi is a sign of the growing ties between the two nations. Right from the days Vietnam fought a war, first, against the French and, then, the US, India has been one of its strongest supporters. During the last few years they have stepped up their relations to a new level. Under the new agreement, India has committed to boost Vietnamese defence capabilities. The Vietnamese are one of the greatest warriors, though the same cannot be said about their defence equipment. India can help the nation by providing sophisticated technology and equipment.
The agreement has been inked, despite protests by the Chinese, who frown upon India coming closer to Vietnam. India has been offering help to Vietnam to explore oil in its territorial waters, which China claims to be theirs. There is no neighbouring country with which China does not have a boundary dispute. Vietnam has one of the fast growing economies and it needs oil to meet its burgeoning energy needs. The two countries need not be bothered about the Chinese protests, as they are merely pursuing national interests. They do not pose any threat to China’s security but the same cannot be said about the “string of pearls” policy China has been pursuing in South Asia.
It does not need much prescience to know that the policy is targeted against India. China has been investing heavily in countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives with a view to pitting them against India and to gain strategic defence capabilities. Whenever India tried to strengthen the borders in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, it made loud protests and even talked about starting a war. Umpteen have been the occasions when the Chinese border security forces intruded into Indian territory to create scare. The Modi government has already indicated that it would not compromise India’s border security to please the Chinese. It should pursue the national interest, irrespective of what China feels.