Can India keep China in check in the Indo-Pacific?

India is improving and deepening defense and security ties with Vietnam as a hedge against a rising China in the Indo-Pacific region. The increased cooperation includes joint production and transfer of technology of homemade weapon systems.

The new arrangement was announced 03 March during a visit to India by Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang. Both countries will soon sign an agreement for a line of credit offered by India worth $500 million that will be used to build capabilities through Vietnam’s defense industry.

“Both sides agreed to further enhance defense ties, including through exchanges of senior-level defense delegations, regular senior-level dialogues, cooperation between the two armed forces, port calls of naval and Coast Guard ships, capacity building projects, procurement of equipment, and transfer of technology,” according to a statement issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

India could soon offer its Brahmos cruise missile for export. But in the meantime it can offer the export of ships; patrol craft; sonars; radars; communications equipment, systems and auxiliaries; and submarine repair and refit.

Indian ministry of defense officials believe it is imperative for their country to forge regional security partnerships as China rises and poses new security challenges throughout the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. [source]

Analysis: This partnership is best summed up this way: “Vietnam is often viewed as a linchpin in India’s policy of ‘Act East,’ and subterraneously it supports a counter-encirclement strategy against China,” according to independent defense analyst Probal Ghosh. “Historically, the Vietnamese share an innate distrust of the Chinese, and the geostrategic importance and symbiotic nature of the Indo-Vietnam bilateral relations makes it imperative for India to not only encourage such ties but actively nurture it in every possible way.”  Also, according to Arun Prakash, a retired admiral and former service chief, India “will gain a useful ally in the South China Sea littoral and hopefully enlist a neighbor of China as [a] partner to make China behave itself.”

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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