In a speech that China will be closely going through, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has called for respect for rule of law in the Indo-Pacific during his address to Vietnam's Parliament. He is the only second leader after China's Xi Jinping to address the Vietnamese parliament.
Speaking in the Parliament, 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 rule-based order that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity, ensures freedom of navigation and over-flight, as well as unimpeded commerce."
The South China Sea issue, which involves China and its neighbour, involves the demarcation of the sea but each has overlapping claims. In recent years, China is seen as aggressive in its approach regarding its claim.
The President of India further added, "our shared vision seeks peaceful resolution of disputes, with full respect to legal and diplomatic processes in accordance to the principles of the international law, including those reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. "
The Philippines had dragged China to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regarding the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The tribunal had favoured Manila but Bejing rejected the ruling.
President Kovind also highlighted India's consistent support for "ASEAN’s unity and centrality" and "ASEAN-led mechanisms for regional security and economic architecture – to promote peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region".
This is the first time President Kovind has visited any ASEAN country. Earlier this year, India invited all 10 heads of ASEAN for its Republic Day. Bilateral trade between Hanoi and Delhi has touched $12.8 billion in the past year and India is one of Vietnam’s top 10 trading partners.
The President highlighted Indo-Pacific many times during his address saying "we are both ancient maritime nations and are stakeholders in the commerce, security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region"
Both countries will participate in the first Bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue to be hosted by Vietnam in early 2019. There have been a number of high-level visits between India and Vietnam with both the Vietnamese Prime Minister and the President visiting New Delhi earlier this year.
Speaking in the Vietnamese parliament, President Kovind said, 'Vietnam and India share a vision for the Indo-Pacific region, of which the South China Sea is a critical component.'