Vietnam Communist party general secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s visits to India in recent years has not been seen as a routine bilateral event but instead has been termed as an indicator of a “third path” of mutually beneficial cooperation, which is seen as a much needed alliance in times when China and US are intensely competing for supremacy and authority globally, which looks similar to the times of the cold war with two sides competing to rule the world compelling other nations to choose sides.
The authenticity, existence and need of NAM in the contemporary world has been questioned again and again and with NAM trying to get a hold of its own in the present pressing times, this new alliance has amped the hopes of reviving the movement infusing new life into a movement that had been a saving grace for nations not intending to be involved in a conflict during Cold War.
What have got the populace anticipating are not the frequent visits by the Vietnamese officials or any upcoming East Asian leaders visit to India. But in the wake of announcements made by Hillary Clinton keeping in mind “strategic pivot” and “return to Asia” dialogues, the geo-political rivalry between US and China is now set in Asia as United States regards many parts of Asia together with South China and East China seas, as areas of vital interest which on the other hand have conflicts with China.
However, certain reasons are still holding back US from directly involving itself into Asia-Pacific and East-Asian issues involving the ongoing Afghanistan campaign, notorious “Iran issue” and also the economic problem of the United States itself. US which is used to getting into wars through a proxy accrediting the burden off to smaller nations using them as instruments while themselves staying away from the scene virtually still continues.
This has been the shrewd approach of United States with the Asian countries each with their own string of tension with China, turning states neighbouring to China against it itself being the puppet master who remains invisible in the process. Its war against Vietnam was of a similar kind and still remains etched in the memory of the Vietnamese who faced mass destruction in the hands of US during the 1960-70’s war. United States in its schemes sees India as a vital element in controlling China as India is a comparable match up to China in its economic and military potentials, also trying to capitalize on India’s determination to not let Beijing grip its extend over Asia in general and over South Asian countries in particular.
India’s “Look East” policy build-up in 1990’s was a step towards this determination which India started as a counter aiming at full integration with the East and South Asian countries. However, India which is not keen on Chinese domination, even though remains on a friendlier term with US doesn’t seem to be interested in playing up to the United States as its tool which was amply evident from the recent events in Indian foreign policy on Iran with Washington pushing India to join its sanctions on Iran and curb purchases of Iranian oil.
Amidst the war of supremacy between these nations Vietnam and India collaboration brings a ray of hope where both nations have signed off on the oil and gas exploration and the subsequent extraction in the South China Sea which is quite delicate for both countries as the region offers a vast area of oil and gas resource to benefit from causing a standoff between China and its neighbours including Vietnam and US tensed regarding freedom of navigation with China’s growing capabilities in the region.
But the pact signed between India and Vietnam is placed on the area not contested by China thus keeping Beijing in mind also looking after the freedom of navigation issue, thus taking a “third path” of cooperation not choosing any side or executing anybody else’s plan. This has emerged as a mutually beneficial cooperation which has not directed itself against any other third party.
This mutual collaboration between both the nations can play a role in reinvigorating the non-aligned movement which had India as its leaders during its conception thus initiating a comeback for the movement on the world arena amidst the increasing fight for power and authority between United States and China.