Several Indian media outlets lately noted that New Delhi is proactively discussing the supply of its home-made Akash surface-to-air missile system to Hanoi. This was supposed to be a normal arms sale, yet was portrayed by the Indian media as a response “to counter the Chinese threat.”
There should be no dispute when India decides to intensify its military ties with Vietnam, a crucial member of ASEAN as well as a key pillar of India’s Act East Policy. Yet such ties should be built for the sake of peace and stability in the region, rather than stirring up troubles or anxiety for others.
However, when India and Vietnam are in talks about possible sales, New Delhi seems to keep taking a sneak peak at Beijing, as if the deal is stealthily aimed at China. According to The Times of India, given that China thwarted India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group and blocked New Delhi’s bid at the UN to blacklist Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, “India is responding by fast-tracking military ties with countries in China’s own backyard.”
If the Indian government genuinely treats its enhancement of military relations with Vietnam as a strategic arrangement or even revenge against Beijing, it will only create disturbances in the region and China will hardly sit with its arms crossed.
Due to geopolitical factors, some nations have been cozying up to India over the years, which to a large extent contributed to India’s fruitful development. New Delhi understands that the best strategy for itself is to continue its collaboration with all parties, instead of picking a side and turning hostile to one another. Otherwise, it might not only turn others’ troubles to its own puzzles, but also suffer enormous losses of development opportunities.
Such reports directed against China have long become a tradition among the Indian media. Some say that India’s Mausam Project was raised to counter the Beijing-led One Belt and One Road initiative.
During a short visit Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid to Vietnam in September last year, an expert in India voiced that “India can make the same statement in China’s backyard that they do in ours.”
Yet Vietnam is not a backyard to any country. Such a statement only mirrors India’s outdated diplomatic mindset.
India has a dream to grow into a great power. But under today’s international circumstances, it will be extraordinarily hard to achieve the goal on its own. What India needs is more pragmatic cooperation with other countries.
Beijing always emphasizes the importance of cooperation with New Delhi and hopes the latter will join the Belt and Road initiative, which will help promote the country’s infrastructure construction, improve connectivity within the region and may even turn into a push to solve the India-Pakistan contradictions.
It is hoped that the hype in the Indian media does not represent the country’s government. There are divergences between Beijing and New Delhi, yet there are more common interests that await the two to explore.