23 October, 2020

Dragons And Peacocks

Asean's outstretched hand to India is all fine, but when China calls it may look a closed fist

Sandeep Adhwaryu
Dragons And Peacocks
Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee's participation in this year's summit of leaders from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bali seemingly reflects India's final acceptance by this crucial bloc. Bali also seems to have crowned the success of his government's Look East policy. In reality, though, East Asia's relationship with New Delhi is still in its infancy. For the countries in the region, particularly Southeast Asia, improved ties with India primarily offer lucrative economic returns.

When Vajpayee attended last year's summit in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh—the first time India was invited to participate as a bilateral partner—it marked a new era in New Delhi's relationship with the region. Since then, ties between India and the region have gone from strength to strength—at least with some of the capitals. Singapore has already signed a Free Trade agreement with India; Thailand did it last week. All this is good news for New Delhi.

But at the root of this new relationship with Southeast Asia is an over-riding concern about China. Indian...


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