President’s visit to Vietnam and Chinese President visit to India, does underline Delhi’s expanding geopolitical opportunities with both Beijing and Hanoi at a moment when Sino-Vietnamese relations have seen much tension.
India was one of the few countries in the world that supported Vietnam in 1978, and also preserve relations of Indo-China.
India’s then foreign minister in the Janata Party government, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was caught right in the middle of the conflict between Beijing and Hanoi. Vajpayee was in China on a bold mission to normalise ties with Beijing that had frozen after the 1962 war. As war broke out on the Sino-Vietnamese border, Vajpayee cut short his visit to China in protest against Beijing’s aggression and returned to Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a lot better placed than Janata government, whose diplomacy fell between two stools: normalising relations with China while standing by its friend Vietnam.
India has been of very special strategic interest to Vietnam. India has steadily expanded its defence cooperation with Vietnam and assisted in modernising its military forces.
Vietnam has maritime issues with China and India has been training Vietnamese submarine force.
India is now can engage with any country to gain its own interest without having second thoughts. The only capable country to compete with China in Asia is India, No country’s relation affect because of India’s Strategic relationship with any other country.
This translates into a twin track Indian diplomacy in Asia; build on the new economic possibilities with China but don’t allow Beijing to define the limits of India’s partnership with Japan and Vietnam.