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Jyoti Kataria asked: What could be the theoretical explanation of growing India–Vietnam relations? Is it bandwagoning, balancing, or something else?

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  • Udai Bhanu Singh replies: At a time when the region is witnessing the simultaneous rise of China and India, it is only natural that it should cast a reflection on some of India’s significant bilateral relationships. Bilateral relations among States have traditionally been seen through the theoretical prism of balancing/bandwagoning or hedging, which has proved inadequate. This applies even more so when defining India–Vietnam relations.

    In point of fact, India–Vietnam relations are propelled by the twin dyads of US–China and India–China strategic competition. What brings the two dyads together is the growing convergence between Indian and US strategic interests. Darren Lim and Zack Cooper’s theoretical model explains this through two major determinants of security alignment behaviour. The first determinant is the spectrum of security alignment¾whether weak, moderate or strong. India–Vietnam strategic relations would qualify somewhere in between the moderate to strong alignment with routine joint training exercises or combat exercises and formal bilateral mechanisms of strategic cooperation among their bureaucracies (MoD and MEA) and at the Track-II level. The second determinant in Lim and Cooper model is ‘Path Dependency’ in alignment behaviour.  Both Vietnam and India have major security disputes with China¾India on its land border (the latest being in Ladakh) and Vietnam on its maritime border (South China Sea). These two determinants provide a convincing rationale for closer India–Vietnam relations.

    Posted on 14 October 2021

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.