Ahead of the ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur, India has denied any counter-balancing of China as it sought to upscale relations with Indonesia, the largest country in ASEAN and a fellow-traveller in Non-Aligned Movement.
India’s Vice President Hamid Ansari, who is on a five day visit to Indonesia and Brunei, stressed on the importance, India attaches to deepening and expanding its relations with Indonesia. Focusing on the common interests, Mr Ansari said: “We have much in common – sharing cultural values, but also developmental objectives give our large youthful populations and their growing aspirations. We also share similar governance challenges and can benefit from sharing our experiences with each other.”
Addressing a query on whether India’s Act East police is designed to contain China, the vice-president spoke about changing diplomacy in the 21st century. “I don’t think we should be in the business of counter-balancing. We develop our own relations on our own momentum. Indonesia is nearly half – or more – of the ASEAN region. It stands on its own. So, the idea of mitigating China’s assertiveness is outdated,” Mr Ansari stressed.
“Indonesia is the largest ASEAN member and India looks forward to its continued support as we move to increase our engagement with ASEAN member States as part of our Act East policy. We congratulate the Government of Indonesia for successfully organizing 60th Asian African Conference Commemoration in April 2015 and for assuming chairmanship of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) last week,” Mr Ansari said.
Elaborating on the increasing common interests between the two countries Mr Ansari said, “We share similar positions on several global and regional issues including climate change and maritime security and freedom of seas in the South China Seas.”
Ahead of the global climate summit, India and Indonesia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in New and Renewable Energy Sector during Mr Ansar’s visit. “This cooperation is important as both India and Indonesia have committed themselves to reduce carbon emissions by 35 percent and 29 percent respectively by 2030,” said Mr Ansari.
India and Indonesia are expected to sign three MOUs which include a collaboration between the AYUSH Ministry and Bali’s Uddiyana University in the field of Ayurveda. Another pertained to the cultural exchange programme. Notes would be exchanged on the Extradition Treaty signed in 2011.
Indonesia is rich in natural resources – it is the largest producer of palm-oil in the world and the largest exporter of thermal coal.
Indonesia’s proven natural gas is immense with more likely to be discovered. The country’s under water resources of hydrothermal sulphides containing gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc and in its ferro-manganese crusts has been drawing the world’s interests in Indonesia.
Nearly ninety percent of the world trade is through sea and around 38 percent of it passes through Southeast Asian straits, of which three belong to Indonesia. India and Indonesia have been working on strengthening maritime cooperation.
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