India and Vietnam share a vision of a rules-based order in the strategic Indo-Pacific which includes the South China Sea and seek peaceful resolution of disputes in the region, President Ram Nath Kovind said Tuesday, amidst China’s increasing assertiveness in the area.
Addressing the National Assembly of Vietnam, Kovind, on his first visit to the ASEAN region as the president, said Vietnam is pivotal to India’s “Act East” policy. “We are both ancient maritime nations and are stakeholders in the commerce, security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region. Above all, we share the same values,” he said.
India’s association with Vietnam has many aspects that include robust business, political and people-to-people bonds, he said.
“Vietnam and India share a vision for the Indo-Pacific region, of which the South China Sea is a critical component. We share a vision of a rules-based order that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity, ensures freedom of navigation and over-flight, as well as unimpeded commerce,” Kovind said.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims over the South China Sea. “Our shared vision seeks peaceful resolution of disputes, with full respect for legal and diplomatic processes in accordance with principles of international law, including those reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the president said.
India looks forward to enhanced bilateral cooperation with Vietnam in the maritime domain, he said. “India offers a cooperation model that does not require its friends to make choices but rather expands choices and expands opportunities for all; that opens not one but many roads,” the president said. Kovind also spoke about the revolutionary leaders in both the nations, including Mahatma Gandhi and late Vietnamese president Ho Chi Minh.
“They remain inspirations for not just Vietnam and India but for the entire Asian continent and the global community. The coming year once again links these two remarkable personalities, and unites our countries,” Kovind said. “The values of liberty, freedom and integrity that Gandhiji and President Ho Chi Minh espoused are rooted in our shared history – a history of scholarship and mutual learning, and of abiding Buddhist and Hindu spiritual connections,” Kovind said.
He said the enlightened path of the Buddha has brought the two countries closer. “Buddhism’s journey as a world religion began in India, and in Vietnam, it acquired a unique identity, embedded in local culture,” he said. “It is believed that ancient Vietnam had flourishing maritime and trade links with southern India’s Pallava and Chola kingdoms,” he said. President Kovind said India believes in development that is people-centric, that adds value to rather than adds a burden to local communities. The president also spoke about technology, India’s start-up eco-system and space programme.
“India will be happy to share its developmental experiences with Vietnam as per your country’s priorities,” he said. He said the challenge of climate change poses a danger to all human-kind. Coastal nations such as India and Vietnam feel the effects of climate change more than others, he said as he underlined the need of pushing towards renewable energy.
“Beyond our region, India and Vietnam remain committed to cooperation in areas of emerging risk such as cyber-security, and in multilateral organisations,” he said. Kovind also laid a wreath at the monument of National Heroes and Martyrs and at the mausoleum of Ho Chi Min.