Amid souring China ties and South China Sea churn, PM Modi to visit Vietnam

Amid China’s hardening posture on the South China Sea ruling by an international tribunal, senior officials of India and Vietnam have held strategic talks in New Delhi to bolster their military and economic relations, which could pave the way for a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Hanoi early next month.
The volatile situation around the South China Sea in the wake of The Hague tribunal’s ruling rejecting Beijing’s “historic claims” over the disputed water body and the so-called nine-dash line figured prominently in discussions.
The discussions in New Delhi saw a striking convergence of perspectives between the two countries on the South China Sea issue.
The visit by PM Modi to Hanoi will take place at a time when the India-China relations are under strain following China’s stalling of India’s bid for the NSG membership and India denying extension of visas to three Chinese journalists working for state-run Xinhua news agency. Mr Modi’s visit to Hanoi, as and when it happens, will be closely watched in Beijing, which has resented growing proximity between New Delhi and Hanoi, and sees India as engaged in a containment game with the US, Japan, Australia and friendly ASEAN countries.

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Decoding Hague tribunal’s award on South China Sea

In the immediate aftermath of the arbitration award, all sides are trying to calm the situation which, however, remains combustible with, potentially, disastrous consequences. The attention is to analyse each and every word of the principal protagonists to parse the intentions behind them. Apart from the involvement of the Coast Guards in support of the respective fishing boats which is a daily occurrence, several key countries have been exploring – and, eventually exploiting – hydrocarbon reserves within the NDL area. Militarisation of the existing infrastructure in the Spratlys and the Paracels, especially on the part of the Chinese, can completely alter the existing balance of power in the region.

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