Maritime security in the Indian Ocean requires much more than ships, weapons, and sailors. Assets at sea and in the air must be integrated with significant land-based infrastructure. China appreciates this fact. Apparently, the United States and India either do not, or they lack the will or means to match the Chinese.
As China continues to expand its military presence in disputed areas of the South China Sea, Vietnam has sought to balance Beijing’s activities through a combination of deft defense diplomacy and sensible military modernization. On the latter point, analysts have spilled much ink in recent years assessing the Vietnam People’s Army’s (VPA) procurement or indigenous development of specific weapon systems. Yet comparatively little has been written on the thought process behind acquisition of these new capabilities, and whether Vietnam has a military doctrine or concept of operations in place to effectively guide their employment in future South China Sea conflicts.
To ask Taipei to accept the political risks of taking a position on the U-shaped line—especially one more in line with the legal positions of other South China Sea claimants than with those of China—without access to any of the mechanisms to manage the disputes is unfair.