At the India-US Summit in Tokyo on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden, while welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said he was committed to making the India-US partnership among “the closest on earth”. Biden said he was pleased that India and the US have reached an agreement for US Development Finance Corporation to collaborate in vaccine production and clean energy initiatives. “There is so much our countries can and will do together. I am committed to making the India-US partnership among the closest we have on earth”, Biden said.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Modi described the India-US strategic relationship as a “partnership of trust”. I am confident that the friendship between India and America will continue to be a force for good for global peace and stability, for the sustainability of the planet and for the well-being of mankind”.
Meanwhile, in Tokyo, in a strongly-worded joint statement, without naming China, the leaders of India, US, Australia and Japan in the four-nation grouping Quad, said, they strongly opposed “coercive, provocative or unilateral actions” in Indo-Pacific region.
The Quad summit joint statement said: “We strongly oppose any coercive, provocative, or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo and increase tensions in the area, such as the militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities”.
“We will champion adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas”.
This statement has come at a time when China has been staking its claim on nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, but Taiwan, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. China has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.
In a major new initiative on Tuesday, the Quad launched the Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), which will provide technology and training to partner countries to fully monitor the waters on their shores, and offer “near real-time, integrated and cost-effective” maritime domain awareness picture, so that countries in Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and Indian Ocean region can fully monitor the waters on their shores.
The Quad also launched on Tuesday the “Quad Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Package (Q-CHAMP) and its two main themes are mitigation and adaptation. Before rounding off his successful Japan visit, Modi had bilateral meetings with, apart from US President Joe Biden, Japanese Pm Fumio Kishida and the new Australian PM Anthony Albanese.
On Monday, a 13-nation Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) was launched which includes India, US, Australia, Japan, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. These 13 countries together account for 40 percent of world GDP. Modi described the launch of IPEF as a declaration of “our collection will” to make the region an engine of global economic growth. This is seen as a bid to counter China’s growing economic influence in the region.
Modi also met several top CEOs of Japanese companies, including Suzuki Motor Corporation, NEC Corporation, Fast Retailing and Softbank Corporation, who had been making big investments in India. Suzuki Motor Corporation is going to invest more than Rs 18,000 crore in India by 2026. Work has already started. After Gurugram and Manesar, Suzuki will set up its third manufacturing plant in Kharkoda, Haryana. It will provide jobs to nearly 11,000 skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers. The plant can produce up to 2.5 lakh cars. Japanese conglomerate Softbank has become a major lender for Indian startups. Modi told the Japanese business leaders about India’s production-linked incentive schemes. Modi wants India to replace China as the biggest manufacturing hub.
Modi also took time out to address the NRIs based in Japan, outlining the achievements of his eight-year rule. The Prime Minister told the Indian diaspora: “Today India is setting new examples before the world. India is leading in many areas…The world is watching India’s self-confidence. There was a time when India used to watch the world seeking help, today the world is looking at India for help. India has stood the test of time before the world. During the Covid-19 pandemic, India sent medicines and vaccines to more than 100 countries across the world. Now, the world is worried about climate change and India is showing the way. India has set net-zero carbon emission target for the year 2070. India is now a world leader in digital transactions today. “
Modi undoubtedly keeps big targets and tries his best to achieve them. Under ‘Swachh Bharat’ scheme, he aimed at providing toilets to every household, under Jal Jeevan Mission scheme, he has aimed to provide piped drinking water to every village, under Ujala mission, he sought to provide power connections to every home, under Ujjwala Yojana, he carried out a massive provision of LPG cylinders in the homes of poor people, under PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, the Centre is providing free foodgrains to more than 80 crore Indians since the Covid pandemic. Earlier, politicians used to fear while fixing such targets, but Modi is made in a different mould. He fixed the targets and strove to achieve them. That is why Modi said in Tokyo before the Indian diaspora: “I have this habit of drawing lines on stones, not on butter”.
Modi visited Japan for a span of 40 hours, attended meetings of Quad and IPEF, had bilateral meetings with top statesmen, and also met top Japanese businessmen. He had 23 meetings in all, spent only one night in Tokyo, and two nights in the special plane. In spite of such a hectic schedule and jetlag, Modi always looked fresh and fit.
China is anxious about the outcome of Modi’s Japan visit. Chinese leaders are going through each and every word that have come out in official statements on Quad, IPEF and other meetings. All these took place at a time when there were media reports of China preparing to attack Taiwan.
At a time when China dominates the world market for manufactured products, India has planned to take support from IPEF and Quad to upgrade its technological and manufacturing might and replace China. China is presently busy fighting the Covid pandemic, with most of its factories closed. There are hardly any goods, from statues of Ganesh Ji to iPhones, that are not manufactured in China. China is using its economic cleft to browbeat other countries. China needs to be countered on an urgent basis and the creation of IPEF is one major step in that direction.
After the Second World War, the US had formed a grouping called NATO with most of the western European countries to counter the influence of the Communist Soviet Union. In a similar manner, the US has now launched IPEF with India, Japan, Australia and other East Asian countries to counter Chinese influence.
The difference is: while NATO is a military alliance, times have changed, and the IPEF is an economic alliance. It is because of these developments that China is threatening to take military actions against Taiwan, but the entire world is now watching. Since the time he became PM, Modi had said that India will never lower its eyes and look up for help, it will watch its rival straight in the eye and give a matching response. This is what happened in Doklam and Ladakh, when Indian army bravely responded to Chinese treachery. A time will come when China will realize its follies.
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