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
After bilateral meetings, the thrust for Prime Minister Modi will now change with various multilateral summits coming up, starting with India-ASEAN and the East Asia Summit next week. These are opportunities to expand India’s regional position and economic links, and address issues such as terrorism and a rising China
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is scheduled to inaugurate the new avatar of the ancient Nalanda University on September 19. The opening is a significant event as the international university is India's attempt at projecting its soft power. However, much more needs to be done to make it an international center in the true sense of the word