The joint exercises in the South China Sea were part of both nation’s efforts to boost their combined maritime cooperation to contain China’s expansionist plans for the region. India sent its naval ship INS Kiltan to the South China Sea. The Indian Navy tweeted: “INS Kiltan arrives at Ho Chi Minh City to deliver Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Stores for the flood-affected people of Central Vietnam.”
Part of the ship’s mission was to deliver food aid to the flood-affected people in central Vietnam.
The Indian ship docked at Nha Rhang port of Ho Chi Minh City last Thursday with 15 tonnes of food relief for the people of flood-stricken central Vietnam.
However, the ship also participated in the maritime exercises with Vietnam on Saturday on its return journey.
On Sunday the Indian Navy tweeted: “Passage exercise PASSEX (carried out) between Indian Navy and Vietnam People’s Navy Navy on December 26, 2020.
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Beijing has hit out at the combined military exercises by India and Vietnam.
Writing on a Chinese military online platform, Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the Center of China-South Asia Cooperation at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies said: “India has never stopped searching for chips to counter China on the land boundary issue.
“This is an important reason for its strategic cooperation with Vietnam on the South China Sea issue and its exploration of oil and gas resources in disputed waters between China and Vietnam.”
He added: “At present, the border stand-off between Beijing and New Delhi continues, and India’s logistics support, to its front-line soldiers, at the Galwan Valley and Pangong Tso, one of the scenes of the stand-off in eastern Ladakh, is confronted with severe challenges.
“Therefore, India intends to exert pressure on China through the South China Sea issue to force China to back off on the border.
“India will not stop at meddling in the South China Sea issue as a means to pressuring China.”