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People-to-people ties: Strength of Vietnam-India relations
Minh Nguyen 16:30, 2023/12/23
People-to-people exchanges lay the foundation for Vietnam-India relations, which have reached the level of comprehensive strategic partnership.

People-to-people links have become strength in Vietnam-India relations that have stood the test of time.

Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Sandeep Arya speaks at the conference held in Hanoi on Dec 22. Photos: HCMA 

Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Sandeep Arya said at the international conference titled “Vietnam-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: Confluences and Opportunities” recently held in Hanoi.

He said people-to-people affinity, tourism, and cultural exchanges are typical of the Vietnam-India friendship, which has been reinforced over the past seven decades. The two countries have adjusted their foreign affairs policies to adapt to the new situation but the profound friendship between the two nations remains.

Ambassador Arya listed the elements that make up the friendship, including solidarity, trust, confidence, affinity, and belief, which are long-term and strategic for both countries. And the upgrading of the relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership demonstrates the two countries’ renewed commitment to broader relations.

The continued mutual solidarity and trust between the two countries is as a source of comfort and hope to weather global uncertainties together.

At the conference, hosted by the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics (HCMA) and the Embassy of India in Vietnam, scholars and experts from both countries discussed the achievements of the Vietnam-India relations over the past 50 years and outlook for the bilateral ties in the future.

Participants agreed that Vietnam and India have shared a time-honoured relationship with strong connections in history and culture. The modern stage of bilateral ties is closely attached to the inspirational leadership led by President Ho Chi Minh and Mahatma Gandhi.

Former Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien, the first Vietnamese diplomat assigned to India to set up the Vietnamese Consulate General, described the Vietnam-India relationship as “special” and “pure”, recalling the selfless help given by the Indian people to Vietnam during the struggle for independence. He cited two examples of the close relationship between Vietnam and India; between President Ho Chi Minh and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and between Prime Minister Pham Van Dong and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Ambassador Sandeep Arya also highlighted the role of economic ties in the Vietnam-India partnership. He called on scholars from both countries to study sectors for greater economic and business cooperation between the two nations. At the same time, he stressed the need of technology, saying both India and Vietnam are focusing on weaving technological trends into their national economic plans.

According to him, the existing dimensions of the comprehensive strategic partnership namely political and strategic ties, trade and economic cooperation, defence and security, tourism and culture, are important.

In addition, he pointed out new opportunities for the further cooperation, including (1) possible partnership in 6G telecommunication vision; (2) real-time digital payments between the two countries; (3) sharing experiences in energy transition to benefit from each other’s models and policies for power auctions, grid management, power purchase and e-vehicle promotion; (4) sharing experiences in developing startups; (5) exchanging experiences in infrastructure development for roads, railways, ports, and metro rail; (6) better defence cooperation; (7) space technology with ever new applications of imagery and data about fishing stocks in the sea, broadband communications and weather alerts. 

Participants at the event.  

Meanwhile, Amb. Sujan R. Chinoy, Director General of the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, highlighted the potential of Indo-Vietnam defence cooperation, which focuses on financial support for the procurement of warships. In 2022, India handed over two high-speed offshore patrol boats to Vietnam under the lines of credit (LoC) signed in 2011.

He said Vietnam is among the most important of India’s strategic partners. There is tremendous scope for deepening the defence sector partnership between India and Vietnam.

At the event, Khuong Do Manh Linh and Vu The Cuong from Center for Indian Studies, HCMA, addressed the role of Vietnam and India amid the rise of the Global South. They argued that Vietnam and India are playing an important role in amplifying the voices of developing countries. This is contributing towards creating a more inclusive global political and financial governance regime. It also reflects the increasing influence and significance of the Global South in the global economy and politics.

However, Nguyen Minh Trang from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam highlighted the South China Sea factor in bilateral relations, arguing that the South China Sea, which China illegally claims up to 90% of, has become an important element in Vietnam-India relations.

Experts at the event also provided undertakings for further cooperation between the two countries.

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