India and Vietnam kicked off their maiden joint naval exercises in the South China Sea on May 21, a move which has not pleased China which lay territorial claims over vast areas of the sea region and often locks horns with its maritime neighbours in the region as well as far off powers like the US and India.
On Sunday, May 27, China's Global Times came up with an op-ed titled 'India-Vietnam naval exercises a futile attempt to flex muscle' saying the joint navy drill is considered a significant step in India's Look East Policy and India has approached Vietnam with an eye on China. It said India also conducted a big naval exercise with top maritime powers in the region, including Vietnam, on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The naval drill in the South China Sea will bolster Vietnam's stance on the region while "by stirring up the currently calm and tranquil South China Sea, the primary goal of India is to contain China," the Global Times op-ed said.
Taking a dig at India, the piece said India has not only opted to maintain tensions along the border with China but also decided to give military support to Vietnam just after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan and said New Delhi's stance puts its reputation at risk.
"China is happy to see two neighboring countries cooperate without targeting any third party. It's unwise for India to interfere in disputes between China and its neighbors under the banner of its Act East policy," the op-ed said.
It also said that India's pursuit of hegemony in South Asia over the decades has not only hit its prestige but also undermined its status, adding that many South Asian countries have started using "resistance against Indian intervention" as their source of nationalism and advised the Indian strategists to make introspection over this.
"Indian media hyped up that naval exercises with Vietnam are aimed at checking "a confrontationist and expansionist" China. But it's well known that China has insisted on a diplomacy that emphasizes building good-neighborly relationships and partnerships. India has been making up an imaginary "China threat" and it has taken an aggressive stance against Beijing," the op-ed said.
"It has played an active role in reviving the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or "Quad," an informal security forum consisting of the US, Japan, Australia and India that was launched in 2007 but eventually fell apart. It has strengthened ties with France, Mongolia, got deeply involved in Afghanistan's reconstruction and crackdown on terrorism, and participated in the construction of Iran's Chabahar port. India's "Look West" and "Act East" policies in fact are draining its overstretched national strength."
"It's understandable that India is eager to become a powerful country," the piece said adding that India should participate in Asia's economic development actively and promote regional peace responsibly when advancing its Act East policy.