PM Modi writes in SE Asian papers about Indo-Pacific

PM Modi writes in SE Asian papers about Indo-Pacific

The Indo-Pacific region will be indispensable to India's future, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote in almost-identical articles published in 27 newspapers in 10 South-East Asian nations on Friday.

"Indians have always looked east to see the nurturing sunrise and the light of opportunities. Now, as before, the East, or the Indo-Pacific Region, will be indispensable to India's future and our common destiny.  The ASEAN-India partnership will play a defining role in both," Modi wrote in op-ed articles published in 10 different languages.

The prime minister apparently signaled India's long-term plan to expand its strategic footprints in the Indo-Pacific to counter what New Delhi perceives as hegemonic aspirations of China in the region.  

"Today in New Delhi, ASEAN and India renew their pledge for the journey ahead,"  Modi wrote even as leaders of 10 South-East Asian nations attended India's 69th Republic Day ceremony as guests of honour.

They joined him and President Ram Nath Kovind to watch glimpses of the country's military prowess and cultural diversity on the Rajpath.

New Delhi's unprecedented move to invite all the ASEAN leaders to attend the Republic Day ceremony itself was aimed at putting on display and strengthening India's engagement with South East Asia  - a region, which is often perceived as a backyard  to China.

"For India, most of our major partners and markets  - from ASEAN and East Asia to North America  - lie to the east. South-East Asia, our neighbours by land and sea, has been the springboard of our Look East policy and, for the past three years, the Act East policy,"  he wrote.

Modi's op-ed, titled 'Shared Values, Common Destiny', was published not only in English, but also in Cambodian, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malay, Vietnamese, Burmese, Thai, Lao, Mandarin and Tamil.

The 'Shared Values, Common Identity' was also the theme of the ASEAN-India commemorative summit, which was held here on Thursday to mark the 25th anniversary of New Delhi's engagement with the bloc.

"India and the ASEAN nations have relations free of contests and claims,"  the prime minster wrote.

He tacitly put India's ties with the ASEAN in contrast  with the territorial dispute between China and most of the South East Asian nations, particularly over South China Sea.

The South China Sea has been at the centre of China's territorial dispute with Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Philippines.

"We have a common vision for the future, built on a commitment to inclusion and integration, belief in the sovereign equality of all nations irrespective of size and support for free and open pathways of commerce and engagement," wrote the prime minister.

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