By – Shyamal Sinha,New Delhi
PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Vietnam ahead of G20 summit here was aimed at jointly piling pressure on China and to raise their “bargaining chips” with the country, Chinese state media said today.
Prime Minister Modi earlier held delegation-level talks with his Vietnamese counterpart, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
“Given the South China Sea issue, Beijing-Hanoi relations have not been smooth over the past years. Negative emotions toward Beijing among the Vietnamese people have also been rising,” an article in the state-run Global Times website said.
“Under such a backdrop, Modi’s visit to Vietnam has without doubt made Indians associate the tour with many strategic meanings, believing that New Delhi and Hanoi might jointly pile pressure on Beijing,” it said.
“The fundamental reason behind it is the interests of India and Vietnam. New Delhi and Hanoi both wish to raise their bargaining position while having interactions with China, but neither of them wants direct confrontation with Beijing,” it said.
While such a possibility cannot be totally excluded, but it will not play a vital role either, it said.
“India has always been cautious when it comes to directly putting the screw on China. In this regard, the US has never stopped drawing New Delhi over to its side for its rebalance to the Asia-Pacific strategy, but India only showed reluctance toward it and has not responded to Washington actively. “This has made the White House quite grouchy,” it said.
Pointing to various commonalities between India and China which are emerging powers and members of BRICS, the editorial said, “India hopes it can improve its underdeveloped infrastructure with the help of Chinese investments and technology.”
Vietnam just witnessed the first visit by an Indian prime minister in the last 15 years.
During the same period, Chinese former president Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, former premier Wen Jiabao, as well as sitting President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have all paid formal visits to the country.
Some of them even visited Vietnam twice during their time in office, it said. “Such a comparison can well illustrate what is going on behind Sino-Vietnam ties and Indo-Vietnamese relations,” it said.
“For Vietnam, with or without China, cooperating with an emerging power like India is beyond doubt of great value. However, such a bilateral relationship will have only limited influence on China.
“After all, strong support from Washington and Tokyo has not yet worked in piling enough pressure on Beijing as Vietnam hoped, thus, how effective can India’s vague support be?” it said.
India extended a USD 500 million line of credit to Vietnam to deepen defence cooperation and signed 12 agreements including a deal to construct offshore patrol boats during Modi’s two-day visit to Vietnam ..Prime Minister Modi also invited the Buddhist monks and nuns present at the Quan Su Pagoda to visit the ‘land of Buddha’ India and his parliamentary constituency Varanasi.
Quan Su Pagoda is the headquarters of the Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam.
Stating that Buddhism, which took the sea route, travelled to Vietnam in its purest form from India, Prime Minister Modi said that world should walk on the path of peace that brings happiness and prosperity.
The two countries also decided to elevate their strategic ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to provide it a new momentum.