Vietnam and India are teaming up to tame China’s ambitions to control the South China Sea and the riches that are hidden beneath.
Early this week, Vietnam granted Indian oil firm ONGC Videsh a two-year extension to explore oil block 128, according to a Reuters report.
China considers the South China Sea its own sea, and is building artificial islands, defying international tribunal rulings – including one favoring the Philippines. While Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte isn’t prepared to stop Beijing, Vietnam – which also claims parts of the waterway – seems to be.
Vietnam’s and India’s challenge to China comes at a time when tensions between New Delhi and Beijing have flared on several fronts. Like the Dokalam area of Sikkim, where India has been trying to block China’s efforts to build a road, and where in reply Beijing has warned New Delhi that it is risking to suffer “greater losses” than 1962.
Then there’s the Pakistani regions claimed by India and crossed by the China Pacific Economic Corridor (CPEC). And the Malacca Straits, where India sent warships recently–most of China’s energy supplies and trade passes through this waterway.
Meanwhile, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been traveling around the globe to enlist old and new friends and allies to New Delhi’s cause.
So far, financial markets in the region do not seem that concerned, at least for now, focusing on the economic fundamentals rather than the geopolitics of the region. But things may change as the US Navy and Air Force have stepped up their presence in the region, drawing angry protests from Beijing.