(This Huan Qiu Shi Bao Editorial of the 15th in Chinese has been carried by the on-line English language Global Times today, December 17th, under the title “India’s changes attitude toward multilateral mechanisms for its global ambition”. The English version omits several sentences from the Chinese original. These are highlighted below in italics font, while words/phrases/sentences in the English version not in the Chinese original are shown below in strike-through format.)
On the one hand, New Delhi hopes to become a leading force to reshape the current international order, and does not want to be “dwarfed” by other countries, especially China, on global governance issues. On the other hand, its multilateral diplomacy has increasingly become pro-West and Sinophobic. India is less interested in multilateral mechanisms where China plays a leading role. And even accelerated its integration into U.S.- and Western-led multilateral mechanisms that exclude China’s multilateral or regional mechanisms.
There are multiple reasons behind the shift, but a most significant one is that the country is changing its identity.
To begin with, India wants to play a leading role. On the multilateral stage, New Delhi is gradually abandoning its previous postures of balanced diplomacy that successive Indian governments played in their foreign strategies during 1998-2014, i.e., it does not want to be a passive “geostrategic pawn” in the games of other powers. Instead, it has increasingly emphasized the pursuit of “world leadership” in the new international order, especially in the reshaping of the regional order. To this end, the Modi government has also reinterpreted “strategic autonomy” as “maintaining strategic autonomy in choosing allies”.
Since the outbreak of the new epidemic, the Modi government has held high the banner of “rules-based, transparent and reformed multilateralism”, saying that the epidemic has exposed the inadequacy of existing governance mechanisms, weaknesses stemming from the U.S.-China games and the necessity of reform of existing global and regional governance mechanisms, such as the United Nations, WHO, WTO and other international institutions. This with an eye on India playing a leadership role, even believing that India will “determine the future of multilateralism” (words of Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar).
To highlight its position as a leading force, New Delhi is increasingly unwilling to let China play an important role in any multilateral mechanism. India tends to disrupt China’s agenda in multilateral mechanisms with the excuse that China’s agenda cannot represent developing countries’ interests. In reality, it is in the service of forging a “leadership role” for India.
Clearly, India wants to prevent multilateral mechanisms from boosting China’s rise. In the BRICS and SCO, India rarely makes efforts to promote internal unity, but tries to dismantle aspects of them from within.
India also pulls out of deals/mechanisms that it cannot play a dominant role or are conducive for other major powers for taking a “leading” role, especially China.. For example, the Modi administration has withdrawn from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations at the end of 2019, seeking instead to actively build a “flexible supply chain alliance” with Japan, Australia and the United States.
Since China became the second-largest economy in 2010, many developed countries have clamored to refuse China’s status as a developing country. India therefore hopes to replace China to become the leader of developing countries. New Delhi believes this is a natural return because India was respected as a leader of developing countries during the Nehru era.
Additionally, India wants to be the net security provider of the Indian Ocean.
Based on the unique geographical advantages, especially India’s unique geographical location and geopolitical advantages in South Asia and the Indian Ocean, Indian elites generally have a “Monroe Doctrine” complex regarding South Asia and even regard the Indian Ocean as its exclusive pond. As early as during Obama’s first term, the U.S. made it clear that India is not only the strategic “pivot point” of the “Asia-Pacific rebalance”, but also the “net security provider in the Indian Ocean” (i.e. the “Indian Ocean police).
With the continuous advancement of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, New Delhi feels it is difficult to maintain a dominant position in the region by itself. To this end, it has been building its own multilateral development mechanism in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region and worked hard to align itself with the US Indo-Pacific strategic framework.
- FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON ON UNGA’S ADOPTION OF CONCEPT OF SHARED…
- EDITORIAL: BIDEN FACES LITMUS TEST TO TRULY RESPECT MULTILATERALISM
- APEC adopts 2040 vision, extends RCEP success in multilateralism supported…
- RCEP beckons Biden to multilateral priorities
- NEW MULTILATERAL ORDER NEEDS TO BE RESHAPED IN MANY WAYS…
- EDITORIAL: SUPPORT FOR THE SCO SHOULD BE ONE OF THE…
- SCO SUMMIT PROMOTES MULTILATERALISM
- INDIA’S “REFORMED MULTILATERALISM”, MUSTN’T GET IT WRONG