India Ascendant?
Vietnam à la Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to visit Vietnam, where he and Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, are expected to discuss China’s maritime aggression. The Financial Times reports:

Narendra Modi is scheduled to meet the top four national leaders in Hanoi on Saturday as New Delhi seeks to counter what it sees as Beijing’s efforts to encircle India with military bases in South Asia.

The flying visit ahead of a summit of Southeast Asian leaders next week highlights the forces in play as tensions rise in the dispute over Beijing’s claims to much of the region’s seas. Analysts say increasing defence co-operation between India and Vietnam shows how both sides trust each other and now see a growing shared interest in keeping China in check.

“There is definitely a hard edge to the relationship with Vietnam,” said Ajai Shukla, a retired Indian army colonel and defence analyst. “In New Delhi, Vietnam is seen as one of the countries that has the potential, the history, the motive and foreign policy outlook to confront China, and resist China and its expansionist motives.”

Vietnam has been one of the most vocal Southeast Asian countries to speak out against Beijing’s territorial claims. Now that Hanoi no longer has to worry about a U.S. arms embargo, it should be easier to put military might behind Vietnam’s geopolitical ambitions. No wonder India thinks the country would make a useful ally.

There’s no question that even as the country remains officially non-aligned, India is throwing its geopolitical weight around more and more in Asia. Its great power ambitions are clear. Slowly but steadily, the rise of China is rousing India to action.

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