“India wins yet again!” Narendra Modi announced in May 2019, just after securing a second term as Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy in a landslide general elections victory. When Modi was elected for a first term five years ago, he promised that India would win back its place at the high table of leading world powers. Indeed, after decades of sustained growth, India today is at a tipping point in terms of socio-economic prospects for its 1.35 billion citizens.
The current trade war between the US and China looks like a small piece in a much larger puzzle over world leadership in which China plays the part of the ascending challenger seeking to upset the existing balance of power. Technology and innovation seem to be Beijing’s weapons of choice in its frontal assault on Washington in sectors traditionally led by the US.
9th Maria Weber Annual Conference
India is gripped by an election fever. All elections carry elements of unpredictability but in India’s seventy year history, the 2019 elections are critical. Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 and is seeking another term. The opposition parties are concerned about Modi’s polarising influence and are determined to prevent a BJP victory though they have been unable to put up a united front on account of internal differences.
The Special Strategic Partnership between Canberra and Tokyo was established as a vehicle through which these countries coordinate their regional security cooperation. According to the annual Foreign and Defence Minister’s meeting Joint Statement it is “founded on common strategic interests and shared values including a commitment to democracy, human rights, free trade and the rules-based international order”.
The pledge to have a “partnership for peace” has fast emerged as a key threshold in India-Japan security relations in recent years. Under the rubric of promoting a “free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific” region, a new assurance of engagement seems to be unfolding with frequent bilateral naval exercises, including dialogues and training between the Coast Guards of the two sides.
The “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) is a foreign policy dictum presented by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2016 with the aim of offering an alternative to China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI). On the one hand, the FOIP promotes connectivity, free trade and infrastructure development across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. On the other, the policy renews Japan’s efforts to uphold a rule-based order.
Despite for years leaving much to be desired, the strategic relationship between Japan and the EU has recently witnessed a significant boost. With the signing of tandem economic and strategic partnership agreements at the end of 2018, relations between the great civilian powers at each of Eurasia’s poles appear on the cusp of major change.
In the period between 2016 and 2018 the threat North Korea posed to Japanese security increased dramatically. In that period, the regime led by Kim Jong-un carried out three nuclear tests between January 2016 and September 2017, demonstrating that it had become a de facto nuclear power.
Many uncertainties exist surrounding the courses that the world’s two top economic powerhouses, the US and China, could take in the future. These uncertainties are significant, for they have the power to influence and shape both the foreign policy pursued by East Asian countries and universal international norms. Of the two, it is China’s future course, which is perennially difficult to predict.