The burgeoning Delhi-Hanoi bonding is set to acquire greater strategic traction during the December 21 virtual summit between the prime ministers of India and Vietnam with the signing of a clutch of pacts in areas of defence, infrastructure development and energy.
The wide-ranging talks via video-conference between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc marks the culmination of a spate of high-level engagements in 2020 that started with the visit of Vice President of Viet Nam Ms. Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh. The visit saw the launch of direct flights between Hanoi and New Delhi.
“The meeting would be very promising with dozens of deliverables in our bilateral relations. We do hope that such an important meeting will work out a vision and concrete plan to further strengthen our comprehensive strategic partnership,” said Vietnam’s Ambassador to India Pham Sanh Chau ahead of the talks.
The overarching focus of the India-Vietnam summit will be on deepening defence and strategic cooperation against the backdrop of a growing shared threat perception from an increasingly assertive China.
“Defense and security as a major pillar of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. One of the concrete examples of our cooperation is the launch of the first high-speed boat by L&T – an Indian company, under the Line of Credit of $100 million,” said the Vietnamese envoy.
“The two sides are also discussing to materialise the line of credit of US$500 million.”
The implementation of India’s $100-million defence line of credit for 12 high speed patrol boats for Vietnam is set to be a milestone in bilateral defence ties. The patrol boats meant for Vietnam Border Guard will strengthen Vietnam’s deterrence against potential Chinese plans in the South China Sea. Five vessels are being built at Larsen & Toubro’s shipyard in Chennai, and the rest will be made at Hong Ha shipyard in the Vietnamese port city of Hai Phong under the Indian company’s supervision.
New Energy in Ties
Expanding economic and energy ties and exploring new opportunities for supply chain collaboration in third countries in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic will figure prominently in discussions.
“ESSAR has expressed its interest to scale up their investment project in Vietnam to $11 billion. If that happens, the project will be the single biggest investment by an Indian company in Vietnam,” said the envoy. “We are looking forward for their decision and are very optimistic about it,” he said. The envoy recently joined the HCL leadership to inaugurate their new business in Vietnam, which is set to create thousands of high-tech jobs and sets up the biggest HCL hub in Southeast Asia.
Besides bilateral issues, the two countries will discuss way to deepen their partnership to shape a peaceful and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. In this context, the two sides will explore synergies between India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific outlook.
Issues relating to enhancing cooperation in the UN will also feature on the agenda as India and Vietnam will concurrently serve as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council from 2021.
Cultural & P2P Ties
The coronavirus pandemic has only fuelled the desire of the leadership of the two countries to scale up their multi-faceted partnership. This has been manifested in a host of bilateral and multilateral meetings between the two sides this year.
Building on their growing strategic partnership, the two sides are also enthusiastic about cultural and people-to-people contacts. Voice of Viet Nam’s bureau is set to be launched in New Delhi “in order to promote better understanding of India as a state, a nation and culture to Vietnamese listeners.” “India is rising, and we will not miss this important moment where the country emerges as an important economic and political power, contributing to regional peace, stability and the rules-based order,” said the Vietnamese envoy. The two sides have decided on the sites for the bust of Vietnam’s late President Ho Chi Minh in New Delhi and the bust of legendary Mahatma Gandhi in Ho Chi Minh city in Viet Nam.
“We determine to continue to strengthen this relationship ahead to 2021 when we have the opportunity to celebrate the 5th anniversary of establishment of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and in 2022 for the 50th year anniversary of establishment the Diplomatic Relations between the 2 countries.”
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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