NEW DELHI: the district of India stretches beyond the Straits of Malacca in the east and the Gulf of Aden in the west and the Indo-Pacific concept overcomes the man-made loopholes imposed in the post-WWII era Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said Wednesday. The minister’s wording expands India’s intended sphere of influence in the South China Sea as the theater of Indian foreign policy.
In a trilateral discussion with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne during the Raisina Dialogue, Jaishankar described India’s new vision of its role as a strip of the globe .
Interestingly, Jaishankar’s remarks signal a desire to move out of India’s own definition of its “ strategic backyard ” or sprawling neighborhood that PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee was articulated in 2000 – stretching between the Strait of Malacca and the Gulf of Aden. The wording, while framed in terms of historical ties, is unlikely to appeal to China, which sees not only its immediate neighborhood, but the whole of Asia-Pacific as its strategic area. Jaishankar added that global multilateral regimes do not work, security alliances do not always work and bilateral relations are insufficient – in other words, the current system of global governance may have lost its usefulness.
What he did not say was that the rise of China, India and other powers as well as the relative decline of the West had strained the multilateral system, and it was important to rewrite it to reflect current realities.
The world, he said, was moving towards plurilateral or mini-laterals – smaller groups coming together with common interests, common goals and natural complementarities in their structures – like the Quad. “Multilateralism has failed. And bilateral delivery is not what it used to be. World moving towards multipolarity, rebalancing and plurilateralism. Shared values and comforts create new combinations. I won’t fall for mind games, ”he tweeted.
The three ministers were actually supposed to hold a face-to-face trilateral dialogue on the sidelines of Raisina, but this was postponed as the conclave went virtual in light of the surge of Covid-19 in India. If France is not a member of the Quad, the India-France-Australia trilateral is an extension of the Quad, given that France is a major player in the Indo-Pacific, as a resident power, with territories under its control.
Responding to a question about the importance of the Indo-Pacific, Jaishankar said this is a historical reality, in a more homogeneous world, as evidenced by the ancient trade routes that stretched from the western Pacific. to the Mediterranean. “The Indo-Pacific is a strong message. India will not be stuck between the Strait of Malacca and the Gulf of Aden. Our interests and activities go far beyond. Australia and France are part of this web. It’s a return to history, ”he said.
“What broke that were the empires and post-WWII politics. Today, because of rebalancing and multipolarity, they are all getting back together, ”he added.
Emphasizing the centrality of Asean in the Indo-Pacific, Jaishankar rebuffed China’s accusation of Quad as Asia Nato. In recent meetings, he said, Quad discussions have focused on climate, HADR, vaccines, resilient supply chains, emerging technologies and maritime safety.