Global Times, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has threatened India once again, after its sabre-rattling and economic supremacy rants aimed at demeaning the successful test launches of Agni V and Agni IV missiles by India recently. India’s first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (Agni V) has a range of over 5000 Km while Agni IV has a range of 4000 Km. Both are nuclear capable and can reach China effectively.
This time it is about India’s proposal to sell Akash missiles to Vietnam. India has offered Vietnam ingeniously developed surface-to-air Akash missile system. The system has an interception range of 25 Km to keep an effective check on any incoming hostile aircraft for area defence and deliberations are said to in an advanced stage.
In an editorial titled ‘Indian arms sale to Hanoi disturbing if aimed at China’, the state run newspaper warns India that ‘if the Indian government genuinely treats its enhancement of military relations with Vietnam as a strategic arrangement or even revenge against Beijing, it will only create disturbances in the region and China will hardly sit with its arms crossed’.
China has been trying to encircle India by making inroads in its neighbourhood, by offering to develop or developing ports and infrastructure in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives or by reaching out to Nepal and Bangladesh or with its String of Pearls geopolitical theory where it is said that China is developing a network in the Indian Ocean region to encircle India.
Now, of late, if India is realizing the Chinese designs and is pursuing an agenda to answer China in its own geopolitical language by developing bilateral and strategic ties with countries in China’s neighbourhood like Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and even Mongolia, it is a much needed course correction.
If China can do so, why can’t India? If China can sell weapons to Pakistan, why can’t India do so with Vietnam? The world knows that Pakistan’s missile programme is basically a Chinese import. There are reports that Pakistan is going to acquire its first nuclear attack submarine from China. And it will be from the latest generation of the Chinese nuclear attack submarines it is being said. It will be a Shang class submarine capable of firing cruise missiles and comes with six torpedo tubes.
If China can do so then it doesn’t have any right to preach us that ‘India-Vietnam ties should be built for the sake of peace and stability in the region, rather than stirring up troubles or anxiety for others’.
During prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Vietnam in September 2016, India and Vietnam upgraded their ties to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ and before the Akash missile system, India has offered to sell Vietnam BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles and Varunastra anti-submarine torpedoes. Also, India is training Vietnamese to operate kilo-class submarines and will soon start training Vietnamese fighter pilots for Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets.