India and Vietnam last month conducted a naval exercise in the South China Sea (SCS). New Delhi tends to step up influence in the SCS and has engaged with the Vietnamese Navy, deployed guided-missile corvette Kora and guided-missile destroyer Ranvijay in the exercise, showcasing the growing convergence with Hanoi in the maritime security domain in the SCS. Vivek Madhwal, Indian Navy spokesperson opines that “In continuation with ongoing deployment of Indian Navy ships in the South China Sea, INS Kora and INS Ranvijay undertook bilateral maritime exercise with Vietnam People’s Navy frigate Ly Thai to on Wednesday.”
Madhwal further reiterates that conducting exercises by two navies demonstrates the strong bond of cooperation between New Delhi and Hanoi. India, arguably, has huge stakes in the SCS; the sea is a crucial trade route, and having oil exploration projects with Vietnam the former, thus, tries to embroil the latter in the SCS issue. The sea is blessed with geostrategic location and natural resources, having nearly 11 billion barrels of untapped oil and approximately 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Geostrategic location and natural resources of the SCS make the sea a bone of contention among China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei as all of them are claimants of the Sea.