Modi reaffirms India's commitment to ASEAN centrality

PM Modi reaffirms India's commitment to ASEAN centrality in Indo-Pacific

He also recalled India’s support of $ 1 million to the ASEAN Covid-19 Recovery Fund

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Credit: PTI File Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday reaffirmed India’s commitment to the centrality of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Indo-Pacific region, even as the 10-nation-bloc remained divided on the AUKUS – a trilateral security coalition forged by Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Modi virtually participated in the East Asia Summit and re-affirmed “India’s focus on a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and the principle of ASEAN centrality in the region”, according to a tweet by the Prime Minister himself.

The East Asia Summit is an annual conclave of the leaders of the 10 ASEAN nations and eight others, including India, the US, Japan, Australia, Russia, Japan, South Korea and China.

Also read: Biden to join ASEAN summit Trump skipped after 2017

The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of a resilient global value chain, reiterated New Delhi’s commitment to provide vaccines to Indo-Pacific countries, as part of an initiative by the Quad – a quadrilateral coalition of India, Australia, Japan and the US.

He also recalled India’s support of $ 1 million to the ASEAN Covid-19 Recovery Fund.

This was the first East Asia Summit that was held after Australia, the UK and the US launched a trilateral coalition – AUKUS – to counter China’s military aggression in the Indo-Pacific region. Though several South East Asian nations have maritime disputes with China, some of them, including Malaysia and Indonesia, expressed concerns over the AUKUS triggering an arms race in the region.

The AUKUS emerged as a coalition focussed on the development of joint military capabilities, sharing of defence technologies among its three partners and creating a framework for the US and UK to support Australia in acquiring a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, in order to build a deterrent against an increasingly aggressive China in the Indo-Pacific region.

Modi this year joined US President Joe Biden and his counterparts in Australia and Japan to elevate the Quad, which was forged by the four nations with the similar objective of building a bulwark of democracies against communist China. India, however, resisted moves to turn the Quad into a NATO-like security organisation for the Indo-Pacific region.

New Delhi already conveyed to the ASEAN nations that the Quad, unlike the AUKUS, would continue with its benign agenda to counter China’s geopolitical influence in the Indo-Pacific, like dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and supplying vaccines to the countries in South Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific, helping revive economies in the region, ensuring supply chain resilience, supporting construction of infrastructure, educational initiatives and humanitarian assistance.

India remains “committed to strengthening respect for shared values of multilateralism, rules-based international order, international law and sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations”, the Prime Minister posted on Twitter after participating in the East Asia Summit.

He highlighted the synergies between the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).

Check out latest videos from DH: