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AIR spotlight summary: PM visit to Manila and its significance


AIR spotlight summary: PM visit to Manila and its significance


 

Introduction:

PM will be attending 15th ASEAN summit and 12th East Asian Summit and PM will also call a bilateral meeting with US president. Will this visit an enhancement and boost to PM’s Act East policy?

Very much so. From the very beginning PM has given a lot of attention for strengthening relationship to all the countries towards east. PM named out old Look East policy as Act East policy. PM has attended all the four meetings since he had become PM. This shows how significant this policy is.

2017 is again a landmark year; India has 25 years of dialogue partnership and 15th year of India-ASEAN summit. In addition to it there has a lot been done and lot has been planned.   

So this is a right time for PM to personally interact with leaders of ASEAN countries and 8 other members who are part of East Asian summit too strengthen its policy towards East Asia.

Significance of Indian PM’s bilateral meeting with US President

PM’s bilateral meeting with US President. This is also first time that PM is meeting US president after both the leaders had met four and half months ago.  And we have also seen that Pakistan and Afghanistan Policies of US are slightly tilting towards India.

There are issues like Rise of China, North Korea proliferation which US president wants India’s support, understanding and cooperation.

US president during APEC summit singled out India for appreciation.  He also singled out PM for dynamic leadership. There has been good chemistry between India and US countries and also between both the leaders.

Repeatedly US president in all his statements has called Asia Pacific region as Indo-Pacific.  This shows that he is giving due importance to India as well as the security of the Indian Ocean.

China has been quiet aggressive under the present leadership. China is also asserting itself very strongly in Asia. This usage of word Indo-Pacific may be an intention where US is trying to reemphasize the Indian component in Asia as compared to China.

Few years back US’s focus perhaps was on Western pacific and India’s focus was on security of sea lanes and maritime traffic in the Indian Ocean. But now interests of both the nations are converging. India, US along with other countries like Japan, South Korea and Australia concerned about increasing naval might of China.

Whatever china has been doing in South China Sea where unilaterally claiming a huge area which has never been there.  So there is an apprehension that in course of time china could impose limitations on the maritime traffic.

PM during last East Asia summit strongly said that maritime traffic should flow, and all the countries should obey the rules under UNCLOS.

QUAD meeting on the side-lines of this summit:

QUAD has really come from Japan. Now the situation in East Asia and Indo-Pacific is changing very rapidly.  It is important that the major democracies which are active in this area, which have security issues and which have capabilities should work together, exchange views and harmonize their positions so that no country unilaterally disturb the status quo.

Present Indo-Pacific region is peaceful and it should continue to be so. So meeting between 4 major democracies is very useful where china perhaps try to disturb the status quo.

India’s Act east policy

India’s Act east policy stands on its own and it has its own logic because for our own prosperity and economic integration.  India can’t look towards its west because of hostile Pakistan and turmoil in Afghanistan.

For our own economic growth and prosperity and for the integration of NE India needs to look East.

So whatever China does or doesn’t in our neighbourhood, there is a compelling logic for India to work closely with all the countries of ASEAN and further east with Korea and Japan.  Element of China is there but perhaps it is not the predominant reason for India’s active policy towards East Asia.

Trade between India and ASEAN relations in 2015-16 stood at more than 60 Billion dollars, how important is this bulk of trade in keeping this relationship intact and give further boost to relationship?

Any relationship becomes closer if it has a strong economic and investment partnership. 17% of FDI has come from ASEAN countries mainly from Singapore. Many of Indian companies have invested more than 40 Billion dollars in ASEAN countries, for instance in Indonesian mining sector.

Trilateral highway which India is trying to connect its North East through Manipur, Myanmar and Thailand and further east will further strengthen our trade with East Asia.

Conclusion

Traditionally India has been nonaligned.  Now we can call the present foreign policy of government as multipolar policy.  It looks to all the countries which are friendly to India with the equal attention.  Certainly in all these bilateral and multilateral forums there are many opportunities to exchange words. These brief interactions are sometimes useful in giving a relationship a push.  All these interaction will help India to promote its own interests and relations.

Even though the interactions as part of QUAD (US, Japan, India and Australia) are a one on one interaction there is still be a common thread of quadrilateral of a common security umbrella. Worlds different centres of powers are coming together to try and assure peaceful rise of China.

It is true that China is rising but when china talks about its core interests it should also take into account the core interests of other countries.