Opposed to formation of any military alliance in Indo-Pacific: Vietnam
New Delhi, Nov 15 : Vietnam Thursday was non-committal in backing the “Quad” or quadrilateral coalition among India, the US, Japan and Australia, saying it welcomes any initiative to bring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region but is opposed to the formation of any military alliance.
Vietnam’s newly-appointed envoy Pham Sanh Chau also emphasised on the need to maintain peace, security, stability and freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, adding his country does not want the region to be a “theatre” of power-play by major powers.
“Vietnam welcomes any initiative for maintenance of peace, security, freedom of navigation and overflight in the region. However, we do not want to see a military alliance formed because we believe that it is not conducive to the security environment in the region,” he told reporters.
The envoy was asked whether Vietnam supports the quadrilateral coalition among the four powers.
“If any country wants to gang up, use force or trying to use force, then it goes against the position of Vietnam,” he said.
Chau’s comments came three days before President Ram Nath Kovind begins a visit to Vietnam.
He indicated that expanding defence and security cooperation will be one of the key focus areas of discussions during Kovind’s visit to Vietnam.
In November last year, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending “Quad” Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
The move was seen as an effort to contain China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region. The US has been pushing for a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific which is seen by many countries as an effort to contain China’s growing clout in the region.
India is known to be reluctant in giving military shape to “Quad”.
Chau also made it clear that it was not his country’s policy to ally with any country or bloc which may act against any country.
Asked about situation in the South China Sea, he said there was a need to ensure the “full and effective” implementation of the international code of conduct by all parties concerned to maintain peace and stability in the region.
Vietnam is one of the claimants to the South China Sea, a disputed region that has been witnessing increased Chinese military presence. Besides China and Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also have overlapping territorial claims in the sea, known to be rich in hydrocarbons.
China has been opposing India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) exploring oil in areas claimed by Vietnam in the South China Sea.
Asked about China’s objections to India’s oil exploration there, the Vietnamese envoy said ONGC has been exploring oil in territories of Vietnam.
“The cooperation between Vietnam’s petroleum company and ONGC has been going on without any problem. There is no objection from a third country,” he said.
India has asserted that ONGC’s exploration is a commercial operation and not connected with the dispute. Oil exploration in the South China Sea is a sensitive issue in Vietnam-China relations.