In early June, a “virtual summit” between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, led to the signing of several agreements that have significant implications for regional security. The call for a deeper maritime partnership between the two countries and an important agreement on mutual logistics support in each other’s military bases come against a backdrop of bilateral tensions in both the India-China and Australia-China relationships.
Chinese transgressions on the Line of Actual Control between India and China have been ongoing over the past month and while this is not a new phenomenon what was notable was that these transgressions took place at multiple locations in Sikkim and Ladakh, indicating perhaps, a new phase in bilateral tensions. Australia-China relations, meanwhile, are in a particularly difficult phase. Canberra’s push for an independent international investigation into the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic attracting furious reaction from Beijing which accused the Australians of playing proxy for the United States. In the inflated Chinese view of themselves, no country accusing China of wrongdoing has any agency or rationale of its own but is always serving American interests.
Talk of a post-Covid world order often centres around the decline or the retreat of the US from global leadership implying that the field is clear for China to pursue its ambitions to take over with even greater speed. However, as countries like Australia and others like France and Germany – despite the general failure of a collective response from the European Union – have shown, a vacuum created by the US does not necessarily mean that liberal democracies elsewhere will not stand up to China. Continue reading Looking Beyond China: Strengthening Bilateral Relationships in the Quad
Based on a presentation made at a conference on The US Rebalance and Asia Pacific Region, organized by the Centre for Public Policy Research, Kochi, Kerala, 7 March 2015.
The questions asked of China about whether it is engaged in a regional hegemony project in the Asia-Pacific are deeply problematic. For one, there is a great deal of ignorance about China and so the starting assumptions are underlined by misinformation or lack of knowledge of China’s internal political dynamics, its external concerns as well as of its policy processes. For another, similar questions are not asked of the United States. Is the United States engaged in hegemony or is it a power that maintains peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific? Or is it both? Can the responsibility to maintain regional or global peace be separated from the need to also be hegemonic in order to actually successfully carry out that role? These are big questions but the more interesting one from an Indian point of view is why this question today is asked more of China than of the United States. Continue reading Regional Hegemony or Peaceful Rise? China’s New Silk Roads and the Asia-Pacific
Originally published: August 2008
Extract: Current realities including the US presence in Asia as well as China’s global emergence will need to be addressed in any new Asian security architecture. For the new architecture to also acknowledge India’s rise and its interests, India will however need to provide something much more than military or economic might. There must be an Indian idea that can motivate the security discourse on the Asian continent.
Towards this end, India must ask itself some hard questions. What does India view as the foundation for its relations with other countries? Why for example, should any country consider India’s rise as benign in comparison to that of China’s and why therefore, should any country buy India’s argument that an open and inclusive system with the widest possible membership is the most effective and useful way forward for Asia?
It is about time India answered these questions and (re)examined the nature of its engagement with the world. No matter what its current limitations or perceived advantages, India needs to embark on an exercise of basing its foreign policy on strong domestic fundamentals, before it can truly rise in Asia and the world.
Original Article: “Towards a New Asian Architecture: India and Ideology,” IPCS Issue Brief, No. 80, August 2008.