Prime Minister’s Visit to Manila and its Significance
Search 12th November 2017 http://www.newsonair.com/Main_Audio_Bulletins_Search.aspx
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
In news: Prime Minister went to Philippines on a 3 days visit to attend 15th India-ASEAN summit and the 12th East Asia summit. This visit is an enhancement and a boost for India’s Act East Policy. 2017 is again a landmark year due to 25 years of dialogue partnership and 15th year of India ASEAN Summit, thus Prime Minister personally interacted with leaders of ASEAN members as well as 8 other members who are in the summit.
Boost to India-US relations
At present, there is good chemistry and equation between India and United States as countries and also between its leaders. US President has said that there are few issues in the region where India’s support, understanding and cooperation is desired, whether it is rise of China or it is North Korea or whether it is regional trade. It is also very significant as US President in all his statements has called Asia’s Pacific region as Indo-Pacific and that shows due importance given to India as well as the security of Indian Ocean. It can be somehow a counter to China as China has been quite aggressive and exerting itself very strongly in Asia.
This is a course change from past when few years’ ago, US’s focus perhaps was on the security of Western Pacific and India’s focus was more on the security of the sea lanes and maritime traffic in the Indian Ocean. But now interests of India, United States along with other countries like Japan, South Korea and Australia are converging. These countries are little concerned about the rapidly increasing naval might of China and whatever China is doing in South China Sea, for instance by unilaterally claiming a huge area. Thus, this has given rise to apprehension that in course of time, China could try to impose some kind of limitation on the maritime traffic. India has very strongly said in ASEAN Summit that the maritime traffic should freely flow and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea should be obeyed by all the countries. So in this Indo-Pacific region has a common security issue concern.
The new QUAD
Recently, there has been lot of talk of the quadrilateral arrangement which involves India, United States, Australia and Japan. The idea of the quadrilateral has really come from Japan where earlier also it was in operation for a while about a decade ago. But now the situation in East Asia, Asia Pacific, and Indo Pacific is changing rapidly and it is important that the major democracies which are active in this area should work together, exchange views and harmonise their position so that no country unilaterally is able to disturb the peace at present.
India’s Act East policy
China has given major loans to Dhaka and has invested heavily in Colombo. In recent years, India has also really pushed for its relationship with its neighbours, whether it is Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan. This time India has gone into South East Asia which is not on immediate neighbourhood but where China plays a much more dominant role. However, this is not any move to counter India China. India’s Act East Policy stands on its own which has its own logic for its own prosperity and own economic integration.
India could not look towards our West because Pakistan is hostile to India, Afghanistan is in turmoil and Iran had all kind of sanction. Thus, for its own economic growth, prosperity and integration of North East, India adopted the Act East policy form previous Look East policy. Whatever China does or does not do in neighbourhood, there is a very strong logic for India to work very closely with all the countries of Asia and further East with Korean and Japan.
The trade between India and ASEAN in 2015-16, was at more than 60 billion US Dollars. This bulk of trade in keeping this relationship intact or in giving a stronger further boost to this relationship has a major role to play. Any relationship becomes closer if it has a strong economic and investment partnership. ASEAN and India together are about 1.85 billion people and the total GDP of India is equal to the GDP of the other 10 ASEAN members which is about 3.8 trillion dollar GDP. 17% of FDI in India has come from ASEAN countries mainly from Singapore, Indonesia and India has also invested about 40 billion dollar in ASEAN countries. There is a trilateral highway which is connecting India’s North East through Manipur to Myanmar, Bangkok and Thailand. Once this happens then the trade relations will go further but the economy relations are good. Thus, the relations between India and ASEAN are well placed on the growth trajectory.
A tough, but possible task
Today, there are different centres of power- United States-Russia-China-Japan. Yet India has been able to maintain the delicacies that come with maintaining relations with these centres of power. For example, maintaining relations with the US President and at the same time maintaining a good relation with Russia or with Japan or China.
Traditionally India has been nonaligned. Now, the present foreign policy is that of a multipolar focus and it looks to all the countries which are friendly to India with the equal attention. In all this forum there are so many opportunities to exchange words, to have some kind of very brief interactions which sometimes can be very useful in giving a relationship a push. So all these interactions will help India in promoting its own interest and relations.
At such forums, even though the interactions will be on one on one basis, there will still be the common thread for the quadrilateral of a common security umbrella. The world’s different centres of powers are coming together so that may be one can try and assure a peaceful rise of China. China’s rise is a good thing but it should be a peaceful rise. When China talks about its core interests, it should also take into account the core interests of other countries and in that all the countries want that China should have a policy which accommodates the interest of other countries. Now it is really for China to respond positively and look forward to a stable Indian Ocean region along with Pacific region.
Connecting the dots:
- The formation and revival of ‘Quad’ represents ‘coming of world together’. Critically analyse the statement.