Vietnam appreciates India's position on the South China Sea issue which is especially relevant in context of recent incidents in its territorial waters, Vietnamese envoy to India Pham Sanh Chau said on Thursday. Pham also said that Vietnam understands India's "genuine concerns" over which it did not join the RCEP.
"That is why we try to strengthen services cooperation with India," he said.
After years of negotiations, India had pulled out of the China-backed mega Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) over unresolved "core concerns", with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying in Bangkok that the proposed deal would have adverse impact on the lives and livelihoods of all Indians.
The Vietnamese envoy was speaking at an event in New Delhi attended by Vijay Thakur, Secretary (East) at the External Affairs Ministry.
Thakur said India feels that sea links of communication passing through the South China Sea are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development of the Indo-Pacific region due to which it is vital to ensure freedom of navigation.
Pham said Vietnam welcomes and appreciates India's position on the South China Sea issue.
Thakur said India has been very clear and articulate that its vision of the Indo-Pacific is an open, inclusive and rule-based region and in that context we feel that there is a critical importance of South China Sea because it is an international waterway over which $5 trillion worth trade flows and over 30 percent of international supply of crude oil transits through these waters.
"We also believe that there should be a rule based order where there is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and there must be a peaceful resolution of disputes and there should be no threat or use of force. The countries are engaged in negotiating code of conduct," Thakur said.
"We do hope that this code of conduct that is negotiated respect international law," she said at the round-table on Vietnam-India Relations: From Traditional Bonds to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
China claims sovereignty over all of South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Both areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are also vital to global trade.
Pham said India and Vietnam both strongly support each other and two sides have maintained regular political dialogue."More than 15 mechanisms to strengthen bilateral ties are there. We have also worked closely in cyber security, defence security. Many agreements have been signed on economic cooperation by the two countries," he said.