Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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First-Ever Bilateral ‘Virtual’ Summit Between India & Australia To Focus On Indo-Pacific & Chinese Expansionism

India’s very first bilateral virtual summit is soon to be held between the Indian PM, Narendra Modi and Australian PM, Scott Morrison, with plans to address issues pertaining to the Indo-Pacific partnership and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

While the precise dates are presently unavailable, New Delhi and Canberra are close to concluding the Mutual Logistics Sharing Pact which aims to strengthen the proficiency of the Indian Navy to operate eastwards.

The virtual summit will also discuss the conflict of deep interest to both India and Australia which is China’s increasing military presence in the Indo-pacific, a region that includes the Indian Ocean, the west and central part of the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.

China has outspread its naval forces from the western end of the Indian Ocean to the easternmost position on the west-part of the Pacific Ocean striking a claim to the land and sea regions present there.

“Australia on its own has been participating in various exercises in the region, which is driven by Canberra’s 2016 Defence White Paper which talks about increased engagement in multinational exercises across the Indo-Pacific. And has been cautious in engaging in activities in the Indo-Pacific that may directly confront and anger China,” writes Huma Siddiqui for the Ministry Of External Affairs, India.

Australia’s previous High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu had commented that “Australia and India are working together to promote peace and prosperity based on our shared values and interests in a stable, secure, rules-based and inclusive Indo-Pacific.”

The Australian PM’s was previously scheduled for a high profile visit in January 2020 with his delegation of top ministers however, the incident of Australian bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic halted the official itinerary.

Australian High Commissioner-designate to India Barry O’ Farrell told media that “Our Prime Ministers have agreed to schedule a virtual summit very soon given they will not be able to meet in person…On top of leading a quick, decisive and effective domestic COVID-19 response, Prime Minister Modi has been actively engaging leaders and shaping the world’s response through calls and video-conferences.”

While both the Indian PM and his Australian counterpart have had a telephonic discussion about the Covid-19 pandemic, last month. They had discussed the methods and patterns to contain the outbreak of the deadly virus that has now infected more than fifty thousand Indians and about six thousand Aussies.

“Another important area I think Australia and India are likely to intensify collaboration is thinking through the shape of the post-COVID multilateral order. We have long been a supporter of India take its due place at the councils of the world, including attaining permanent membership of the UN Security Council,” added the High commissioner.

Earlier in January 2020, China had dismissed India and Brazil’s entry United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a permanent member; however, it has backed India for non-permanent membership.

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