Vietnam believes India should take a stand against Chinese activities in the South China Sea, as the current stand-off between Hanoi and Beijing currently affects an area just 100 nautical miles away from a strategic oil block where India and Russia have been engaged in exploration for more than a decade.
“We have briefed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) about the incident.The incident occurred on 4 July but Vietnam has not made it public till China let it out last week as we wanted to settle the issue," the Indian daily The Hindu reported, quoting an unnamed diplomatic source.
Vietnam is also seeking support from the three other members of the so-called quadrilateral group (which includes India, Australia, Japan and the US) to resolve the stand-off.
“We have been asked to seek countries which have an interest in the region and seek their support,” the source added. Meanwhile, the Indian External Affairs Ministry has not commented on the issue so far.
China claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea, which is bordered by Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, brushing aside all competing claims to the resource-rich marine region.
India's state-funded Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has been carrying out oil exploration in the contested waters.
Last year at Shargari-La Dialogue in Singapore, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised that it will defend “rules-based order” in the region. Without mentioning Beijing or Washington by name, Modi emphasised that it is the responsibility of both existing and rising powers to avoid rivalries in the region, as it would force "small and middling states" to take a stance where they would not be able to make free choices, affecting prosperity as well as peace.
"India hopes that all parties to the disputes in the South China Sea will abide by the guidelines on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and redouble efforts for the early adoption of a Code of Conduct on the basis of consensus," Modi added.
Earlier this month, India's Ministry of External Affairs said that New Delhi stands for the peaceful resolution of disputes, including through respect for legal and diplomatic processes, and that India is against resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with international laws.