Vietnam asks India to take a more active role in the South China Sea

Dec 24,2012- Vietnam has asked India to take a more active role in the South China Sea, which is site to escalating disputes between China and some of its neighbors bordering the important body of water through which passes some of the most important sea lanes in the world.

Representatives of Vietnam People's Navy received Indian crew at the HCM City Port on May, 2012

Source of the conflict is China’s increasing aggressiveness in asserting its claim to a number of islets in the area, which are also claimed wholly or in part by Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Japan has a similar conflict with China in another area.

The plea of Vietnam is understandable, as it has joint exploration ventures with India in the area. Interestingly, both Vietnam and India share a common experience of having previously engaged China in a shooting conflict.

It is possible India will take to heart the plea of Vietnam, as in fact it had responded in kind to a Chinese act of making graphic claims on its passports and visas over its shared border with India.

On the surface, the entry of India, if it heeds the plea of Vietnam, may seem welcome to the other claimants in the area who are being harassed by China. India has a strong military and is therefore no pushover.

But that is not what the world wants for this area. More so for the Philippines which can ill afford a military conflict. The Philippines may welcome the entry of other powers only as a matter of pride — finding an ally that can prove to be a match for the bully in the ‘hood.

In the end, however, it is in the interest of everybody if an armed conflict is avoided, an armed conflict that can only grow more certain as the number of actors in the play increases and the plot gets more unwieldy.

At this point, it is enough for other powers to make some noises and give the impression that the world will not stand idly by if China goes beyond what is internationally acceptable in its conduct pertaining to the South China Sea conflict.

World powers such as the United States, India and Japan must make it unequivocably clear to China that there is a line it cannot and must not cross. They must make it abundantly clear that hooliganism has no place in the family of nations.