Vietnam – India Strategic Partnership and Its Significance
Dr Vo Xuan Vinh*
From my personal viewpoint, Vietnam-India Strategic Partnership has great significance to Vietnam’s international relations.
Vietnam has someone to trust in international community. This view seems different from popular viewpoints of international relations. Many know and agree with United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s point that ‘we have no lasting friends, no lasting enemies, only lasting interests’. It is just more than 60 years since President Ho Chi Minh and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had a historic meeting but this period of time is quite enough to test Vietnam-India relations. It is difficult to describe the relation between a couple of countries as ‘strong trust’, ‘strong and cloudless’ but in case of Vietnam-India relations, it exists indeed.
India’s consistency in supporting to solve territorial disputes in the East Sea/South China Sea peacefully in accordance with international laws, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and in continuing its exploration activities in the block 128 offered by Vietnam in Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has given Vietnam more strength and confidence in the latter’s fight for justice and international laws, especially for its sovereignty over Paracel and Spratly archipelagoes and for sovereign rights and jurisdiction of a littoral country over EEZ and continental shelf.
In recent years, India has become an important economic partner of Vietnam. Two way trade reached more than US$ 8 billion in fiscal year 2013-2014 and US$ 9.3 billion in fiscal year 2014-2015. In terms of investment, according to the data given by Ministry of Planning and Investment of Vietnam, by the end of April of 2015, Indian investors ranked 30 among 101 foreign countries and territories in Vietnam with 99 existing projects worth US$ 379.2 million. In defense relation field, India is the second largest supplier of military equipment and strategic weapons and personnel training to Vietnam. Those indicators show that India has increasingly contributed to the development of Vietnam and hence partly contributed to the growing voice of Vietnam in international fora.
Vietnam-India strategic partnership has gained outstanding achievements for nearly ten years, especially in political and defense fields. India is now the second largest supplier of military equipment and strategic weapons to Vietnam. India is also among the most important countries having military personnel training for Vietnam. Politically, Vietnam and India are strongly trusted friends in regional and international fora. Vietnam has been consistently supporting India’s engagement in Asia-Pacific and the latter’s bid for permanent member in the UNSC when this organ is reformed. India, for its part, has been strongly supporting Vietnam’s policy of peaceful resolution of East Sea/South China Sea disputes. Vietnam-India relations in other fields of cooperation have also gained important achievements. Vietnam-India relations in other fields of cooperation have also gained important achievements.
The strategic partnership between the two countries has significance to Vietnam’s international relations. At least, it proves that Vietnam has someone to trust in international community. India’s support for resolving peacefully territorial disputes in line with international laws, and development of Vietnam-India relations in many fields of cooperation in decades have given Vietnam more strength and confidence in its relations with the rest of the world. It is therefore not an exaggeration to say that Vietnam-India strategic partnership has been upgraded to a high new level, a comprehensive strategic one.
* Institute for Southeast Asian Studies Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences.
 Statement to the Media by President on return from Vietnam (17th September 2014), http://www.mea.gov.in/Speeches-Statements.htm?dtl/24010/Statement_to_the_Media_by_President_on_return_from_Vietnam_17th_September_2014
 India’s fiscal year begins from April 1st of this year to the last day of March next year.
 See Department of Commerce (Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India), Export Import Data Bank Version 7.2, Country Wise, http://commerce.nic.in/eidb/iecnt.asp
 Foreign Investment Agency (Ministry of Planning and Investment, Vietnam), Indian Investment in Vietnam, May 14, 2015, http://fia.mpi.gov.vn/detail/3205/indian-investment-in-vietnam