The shadow of the Ukrainian war was visible at the G7 summit. Anti-Russian formations were expected, but the extensive reference to China drew attention. The leaders did their part by extensively discussing challenges relating to climate, energy, environment, health, and food security. It is now for the G7 governments to deliver, to be taken seriously.
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China’s expansionist nuclear programme aims to bolster its capabilities, so much so, that Beijing's predictions boast 2500 new warheads by 2030, thus rivalling the American and Russian arsenals. As the dragon quadruples its nuclear propensity, heralding the world to something greatly unstable – a tripolar nuclear system; nuclear peace seems a quite convoluted goal.
June 6, 2022, marks 25 years since India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand joined hands to create BIMSTEC and infuse South Asia with economic and institutional cooperation. The strategic geography of this grouping has the potential to bring new synergy between South Asia and the recently-instituted Indo Pacific Economic Framework, ASEAN and the Quad, for a prosperous, secure Bay of Bengal Community.
After its fourth summit on May 24, the Quad has emerged stronger and clearer in its initiatives which are aimed at addressing the Indo-Pacific’s geopolitical challenges. India now has a chance to work with like-minded democracies on an equal footing, with much to contribute. The Quad’s strategy for the Indo-Pacific is to deepen internalised cooperation for continued peace, prosperity, and stability.
A serious stocktaking is expected at the Quad Leaders' Summit in Tokyo, to measure the progress of its wide-ranging list and proposals. In addition to vaccine partnerships, climate change, and connectivity, the Quad must now craft a common strategy for and expedite cooperation in, the economy, higher education, industry, and technology. It will also project unity in the Indo-Pacific region.
The BIMSTEC charter has laid the foundations for a prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable Bay of Bengal region, a goal that can be achieved by greater integration and deeper collaboration. While ensuring continuity with past efforts and strengthening economic cooperation is necessary, it must also realise its potential in newer areas such as the blue economy, which has three interlinked pillars— connectivity, prosperity, and regional stability.
The rejuvenated BIMSTEC, with a new charter in hand, is now expanding its ambition and mission. One such area is climate change, which needs greater attention as it will have implications for the Bay of Bengal and beyond. With their unique climate conditions and action plans can together create a model for regional cooperation.
Three senior U.S. officials visited Asia in July in a well-choreographed diplomatic outreach strategy by the Biden administration. The U.S is willing to prioritise the Indo-Pacific and counter China. Asia cannot afford to be a reticent bystander.
Taiwan was one of the few countries to successfully contain COVID-19 during the pandemic. But China's influence led to Taiwan losing its observer status in the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO's decision-making body, in 2017, preventing learnings from Taiwan to be implemented. The G7 and Japan have already backed Taiwan’s reinstatement. India can use its chairmanship of the WHA to rally more support and change the status quo.
India’s oil consumption and imports are likely to resume their upward trajectory as the economy opens up, after a temporary drop due to the pandemic. To secure its energy needs, the country should shift course from investing in oil and gas assets of emerging economies to those of developed nations. The oil-rich Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, such as Canada, Norway, and the U.S. can be given special consideration.