Vietnam had a busy 2020, starting with its chairmanship of ASEAN and ending with the signing of RCEP, and a free trade agreement with the EU. All were completed successfully despite the pandemic, which it also handled well. It has revealed Vietnam’s dexterity and confidence, good management and societal control and raised the country’s global profile.
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The recently concluded ASEAN and EAS Summit saw Prime Minister Modi highlighting the Indo-Pacific region. That’s because a cohesive, responsive and prosperous ASEAN is seen as vital to India's Indo-Pacific Vision and to Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR). India’s decision to opt out of RCEP, even when all ASEAN member countries are signatories to that agreement, will mark a shift in how India enhances bilateral engagements with ASEAN nations with greater strategic intent.
Now that the India-U.S. 2+2 meeting has ended, Indian officials are preparing for a hectic season of summiteering in November, from the SCO to the BRICS and the G20. All will give India global attention, and help the country prepare its positioning at home and abroad.
The UN turned 75 this year but instead of grand celebrations, the world witnessed an empty UNGA with world leaders addressing it via video screening because of the pandemic. The UN is under unprecedented stress and being shown up for its inability to tackle the challenges of today like the pandemics, climate change, terrorism or global peace and security. The institution's key governing structures, especially the UN Security Council, are inadequate and demand reform. India must now use gritty resolve to ensure its place in these governing structures.
The jubilation displayed by many ASEAN countries on account of the Vietnam’s statement as chair of the 36th ASEAN Summit, referencing events in the South China Sea is belied by a sense of realism and caution. But the fact that more nations are speaking up is a good sign.
The 35th summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations, held in Bangkok early in November, showed that a shifting geostrategic landscape notwithstanding, “ASEAN centrality” in the region is a top priority with members. It also served as a backdrop for three summits that ASEAN held on November 4 with China, U.S. and India
The foreign ministers of the Quad countries meet for the first time in New York today even as the Indo-Pacific has turned into a keenly contested geopolitical arena. Some countries are offering to play a mediatory role while other triangular equations are also undergoing change. An analysis of some of the relationships at work here
Philippines, Cambodia and Lao PDR face a range of development challenges at home even as they respond dynamically to shifting priorities in external relations. With U.S.-China competition increasingly shaping this part of the world, will India provide some balance? An insider’s account of how three less noticed ASEAN countries are coping with geopolitical changes
The following remarks were given by Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Gateway House as a speaker at the ASEAN-India Business Summit on November 27, 2018.
In Cambodia, democracy exists only in form. Liberal values, inculcated by the West, take second place to poverty alleviation and employment. Such priorities have affected its diplomatic allegiances while bilateral relations with India have not expanded