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Despite Sino-US rivalry, space for others to influence world: Jaishankar

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 5

While drawing attention to greater caution by the US in power projection and the emergence of China with a “different kind of polity”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said it would be a “serious error to visualise the two developments” as a zero-sum game.

“Whether it is the Indo-Pacific, Afghanistan or the Gulf, we are seeing more players, greater localisation and arrangements of pragmatism.

“In fact, we are now entering a world of greater pluralism, one that recognises the shortcomings of multilateralism, the limits of bilateralism and the un-tenability of unilateralism from whichever quarter,” he said while delivering the keynote address at the fifth Indian Ocean Conference in Abu Dhabi.

As a result of China’s rise, there is now an ongoing debate on the changed nature of power and influence, whether it is connectivity, technology or trade, he said.

“Separately, we have also seen a sharpening of tensions on territorial issues across the breadth of Asia. Agreements and understandings of yesteryears now seem to have some question marks. Time will, of course, provide answers,” the minister observed.

“Put succinctly, Indian Ocean nations are called upon today to take greater responsibilities, fashion better relationships and display more initiative,” he exhorted.

The minister said two developments have significantly heightened uncertainties in the Indian Ocean region. One is the American withdrawal from Afghanistan which leaves behind serious concerns about terrorism, radicalism, instability, narco-trafficking and governance practices.

The second is the impact of Covid on a region that has thoroughly exposed the dangers of “over-centralised globalisation”.

The world needs to develop more reliable and resilient supply-chains as well as in greater trust and transparency, he advocated.

The Quad, he said, is a good example of cooperation among nations who have, within a year, developed an agenda over a dozen items, from maritime security to emerging technologies. Jaishankar hoped that the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative being undertaken in the framework of the East Asia Summit at India’s initiative will also gather greater traction.

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