India has announced it will build a satellite monitoring site that will allow Vietnam to surveil the South China Sea and the Chinese mainland. Reuters:
While billed as a civilian facility – earth observation satellites have agricultural, scientific and environmental applications – security experts said improved imaging technology meant the pictures could also be used for military purposes.
Hanoi especially has been looking for advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies as tensions rise with China over the disputed South China Sea, they said.
As a global power, India has typically been more flexible in its stance on China than, say, Japan and the United States would like it to be. Keeping somewhat more neutral in disputes with China has ensured India has options, and a better bargaining position in general. Yet, particularly over the past year, India has moved more decisively to ally itself with China’s rivals, like Japan. Increasingly, it’s looking like these developments may indicate a gradual shift in policy. We’ll keep watching closely to see they continue.