With China watching, India, Vietnam bolster Indo-Pacific connect, defence ties

Amid the continuing volatility around South China Sea and China’s growing clout, India and Vietnam have decided to deepen their coordination in the Indo-Pacific region and bolster their defence ties to shape an inclusive regional architecture.
Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang’s March 2-4 visit to India and his talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi have expanded the scope of comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Vietnam, and underscored the pivotal role of India-Vietnam relations in the mutating regional landscape. Two visits by Vietnam’s prime minister and president to India within weeks of each other have cemented Hanoi’s role as a pivot in New Delhi’s Act East policy.

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Quad Quandary: Modi, Trump step up strategic connect in balancing Asia

Amid the mutating strategic landscape in Asia and the new geostrategic configuration of Quadrilateral as a backdrop, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with US President Donald Trump in Manila that focused on bolstering India’s military capability and enhancing strategic connect in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Modi-Trump meeting at a glitzy hotel in Manila on November 13 was watched closely in the region amid a collective effort by the leaders of ASEAN and East Asia Summit countries to shape an inclusive regional architecture and China’s declared ambition to be a global power.
The meeting between Mr Modi and Mr Trump lasted for 52 minutes, much beyond the allotted time, signalling that despite a slew of back-to-back meetings both leaders had serious business to discuss. “There was a broad review of strategic landscape in Asia,” India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar told reporters at Manila Marriott hotel, where PM Modi with his entourage is staying.
Mr Trump was all praise for Mr Modi, suggesting a deepening personal chemistry between the two leaders. “He’s become a friend of ours and a great gentleman doing a fantastic job in bringing around lots of factions in India — bringing them all together,” he said.
Bonhomie and backslapping apart, the overarching thrust of the discussions was on spurring the rise of India as a major global power and enhanced coordination in the Asia-Pacific, with an eye on containing China.
The White House read-out on the Trump-Modi meeting underlined “shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
They pledged to enhance their cooperation as Major Defense Partners, resolving that two of the world’s great democracies should also have the world’s greatest militaries,” said the White House.

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Amid churn in Indo-Pacific, US plays India versus China game

Ahead of his maiden visit to India, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has projected the US as the reliable partner India needs, positioning New Delhi and Washington as two “two bookends of stability” in the Indo-Pacific region which is being challenged by China’s “irresponsible” rise.

Courting India ahead of his first official visit to New Delhi next week, Mr Tillerson projected an upbeat trajectory of the India-US relations that have been on an upswing ever since President Donald Trump assumed office earlier this year. In a defining foreign policy speech at an American think tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mr. Tillerson said that the US is “determined to dramatically deepen ways” to build an “ambitious partnership” with India, particularly with an eye on the Indo-Pacific region and China, which will have “far-reaching implications for the next 100 years.”
Going by Mr Tillerson’s comments, it would appear that the US is pushing for a renewed China containment strategy, with India as a key balancer against China’s assertiveness. Should India offer to be part of this strategy? Opinion is divided among India’s strategic establishment. Meera Shankar, India’s former ambassador to the US, has struck a note of caution. “It’s a culmination of the trend of strengthening strategic partnerships in the region by the US to balance China,” Mrs Shankar told India Writes Network. “A stronger India will ipso facto act as a balancer, without getting into overt containment strategy,” she said. The US should help to bolster India’s rise and capabilities, she said.

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