Will India create a Naval Base in Vietnam at Cam Ranh Port after securing access to Sabang Port in Indonesia? Many countries are keen about having their ‘own naval base’ in Vietnam. After Russia and the US, there are speculations that India might get access to a Naval Base in Vietnam at Cam Ranh (even though Hanoi has stated that they are not keen on a Foreign Military Base). A EurAsian Times analysis.
In recent years, bilateral relations between India and Vietnam has grown significantly on regional security issues and trade. As EurAsian Times reported earlier, Vietnam’s Cam Ranh International Port (CRIP) is one of the best deep-water ports in the entire Indo-Pacific region conducive to dock submarines as well as huge aircraft carriers and other naval vessels.
Having good relations with India, whom it regards as a ‘strategic partner’, Hanoi has granted an exclusive access to Indian Naval Ships to use the Nha Trang Port. According to RSIS the Indian Navy has been making regular visits to this southern Vietnamese port, and Vietnam has even asked India to develop this naval facility.
“The fact that not even US, a close ally of Vietnam in the region, has been conferred this privilege underscores Vietnam’s perceptions about the imperative of defence cooperation with India.”
In 2010, the then Vietnamese prime minister Nyugen Tan Dung had signed an agreement with India giving Indian naval ships base facilities at its ports and New Delhi agreed to help Hanoi expand its naval logistics capabilities and to train its army in jungle warfare.
India and Vietnam have a stake in ensuring the security of sea lanes and share concerns about China’s access to the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Vietnam sees a partner in India to fight off China in the troublesome South China Sea.
The fight is for more than the control of territory. As per secondary research by EurAsian Times, it is estimated that there is 24.7 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas and 4.4 billion barrels of oil waiting to be tapped within the area in the South China Sea claimed by Vietnam and contested by China.
Experts talking to EurAsian Times stated that Vietnam is keen to find countries that are willing to invest in its natural resources and aren’t necessarily scared off by the threat of Chinese naval incursions. India and Vietnam’s strengthening relations and collaborations will no doubt pinch China. Asian security experts have noted that Beijing has been protesting against joint Vietnamese-Indian oil exploration activities in the South China Sea for almost a decade, but New Delhi has refused to budge.
Being a small state, Vietnam is always facing the threat of being used as a pawn between the US and China’s power politics. Thus, its turned to India for guidance and support. The proximity of Cam Ranh Bay port to the Malacca Strait and China makes it an ideal place for stifling China in a possible case of conflict. Thus, if Vietnam gives access to India at the strategic port, Hanoi should be able to secure all its economic interests and also ward-off any possible threats from a belligerent China.