ASEAN leaders attend Republic Day

Leaders of 10 Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries  attended the Republic Day parade at Rajpath, Delhi today. These include the likes of Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos and Brunei

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying homage to the martyrs by laying down a floral arrangement to honor the lives lost in ensuring India’s democratic future.

As the flame burned at the Amar Jawan Jyoti to honor the courage of the Armed Forces personnel- The leaders consented on strengthening ASEAN-India economic relations by full utilization and effective implementation of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area.

The primary goal being the implementation of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to ensure a modern, comprehensive, high quality, and mutually beneficial relationship between the ASEAN countries.

A two-day India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit conducted by the Indian Government ended with members agreeing to strengthen economic relations amongst themselves.

Nearly 60,000 security personnel from the Delhi Police and central security forces were deployed in Central Delhi. Snipers were stationed on top of high-rise buildings accompanied by CCTV cameras to keep track on the people in attendance.

The summit marks 25 years of Indo-ASEAN ties.

Sources: ANI, Business Standard

India strengthens ties with ASEAN to work on region security architecture

India has collaborated with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), to uproot terror financing, arms smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering and cyber crimes which are some of the challenges faced by the Southeast Asian nations.

ASEAN and India have enhanced maritime cooperation and security to find collaborative solutions to emerging and non-traditional challenges, making ASEAN India’s fourth largest trading partner. Enhancement of connectivity by land, air and sea in order to transform the corridors of connectivity into that of economic cooperation is also on the cards.

While addressing a Think Thank named ‘Research and Information System’, Sushma Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs said, “Connectivity is a huge enabler for stimulating trade and investment as well as to ensure peace and stability.” She further added, “For enhancing digital connectivity, specific proposals have been put forward, involving the setting up of a regional high-capacity fibre-optic network, supplemented by national rural broadband networks and digital villages in remote areas.”

Swaraj expressed that the major boost towards infrastructure and connectivity, both within India and in the North East, in particular, can make a qualitative shift in our economic engagement with ASEAN. Swaraj also spoke about the influence of Hinduism in ASEAN

Swaraj also spoke about the influence of Hinduism in ASEAN countries making them natural partners of India’s Act East Policy. India’s exports to ASEAN having increased by almost 20 per cent in 2016-17 after   two years of slow growth. ASEAN-India trade is now back on track with an increase of 8 %

India’s exports to ASEAN having increased by almost 20 per cent in 2016-17 after two years of slow growth. ASEAN-India trade is now back on track with an increase of 8 per cent.


News Source-  PTI

More contentious than ever, the South China Sea.

It looks like there is a bully in the classroom. China has been the major claimant of several areas within the territory of the South China Sea (SCS) and South Asian nations have finally run out of patience; they seek the help of international law to keep China at bay. But never has China been known to bow down that easy.

Several countries of South Asia have been in mêlée against China over territorial issues within the South China Sea; at least ten confrontations of China with Philippines over the past year is only an example of what has been happening for a while now. Five other nations, namely Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, who are also part of The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), have long realised that they have little ability to stand up to Chinese domination as far as regional organisation is concerned. Where on one hand China’s military prowess has only gained momentum over the past years, the unity of the ASEAN countries (or the glaring lack of it) seems to be making them more vulnerable.

With The Hague now ruling in favour of Philippines, the country is now in a conundrum over its diplomatic stand. Its lack of naval muscle is forcing the government to maintain diplomacy with China, and at the same time, lean toward the US for military sustenance.

As if there were scope for more competition in the South China Sea, Russia will now be joining China for joint exercises, which is alarming indeed. The growing influence of yet another world superpower in the area is now hinting toward what might be more aggressive conflicts in the future over the already disputed territory.

Philippines made it clear in the past that it is independent of US influence. However, with current developments threatening its dignity, it seems like making US an ally has become the country’s priority. The US’s involvement in this issue will guarantee that the Southeast Asian countries remain indebted to it, and rely on it to bring them justice in case of any international crisis such as this. The US is perhaps depending on this to build further relationships with the ASEAN countries.

A build up of tension with China has provided a diplomatic cover for other American interest in the region (The territory is rich in oil reserves). Since ASEAN countries have turned to US for help, it now has a valid reason to linger and probably seek to serve its own motives.

One cannot deny that US intervention might indeed be necessary, since China leaves no opportunity to project its mighty military dexterity, which now combined with Russia has become even more threatening. But will the United States remain faithful to its rationale behind entering the South China Sea, or will it get swayed by the delicious lure of natural resources and a desire to project itself as the superior power, remains to be seen. Growing military cooperation between Moscow and Beijing needs to be kept under global observation, and while China is a country to be wary of, so is the United States.

North Korea declares any further nuclear deal depends on USA

North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho declared on Tuesday that they will conduct nuclear deals depending on the attitude of the United States and according to him, Washington was responsible for thwarting efforts of de-nuclearization on the Korean peninsula.

 Ri ensured N. Korea as a responsible state and would not use its nuclear power unless threatened while speaking to reporters in an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Laos.
His remarks followed hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry, attending the same meeting in Vientiane, warned N. Korea of dire repercussions if Pyongyang tries to carry out missile tests.
The failure of the stalled six-party talks regarding the N. Korea’s nuclear power deal was blamed upon USA by the newly appointed Ri, who made his overseas debut as the country’s topmost plenipotentiary. “The key factor damaging the situation is the United States’ hostile policies… and the problem is getting worse” Reuters quoted Ri Yong-ho as saying, citing strict impositions by the UN Security Council since N. Korea conducted their fourth nuclear test in the month of January.
But the North continues its ballistic missile tests in spite of the UN sanctions and has made it conspicuous that it will continue to do so without any remorse.

Singapore offers help to India for infrastructural growth

Picture Courtesy – Economic Times
New Delhi, India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of building smart cities in India has taken its first step towards realization with Singapore, India’s biggest and most important trade partner in the ten members Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) offering its expertise in building smart cities and teaching various skills to young people.

K Shanmugam, Singapore’s foreign minister, was the first South-east Asian country minister to visit India post the general elections and the formation of the new Modi government. Singapore has also offered their skills in the hospitality industry which will boost jobs in an economy of a billion people. Through their assistance, Singapore will offer a pool of skilled and experienced laborers, depending on what the Indian budget holds out for foreign investors.

Singapore is also eager to increase defence cooperation with India with their defence minister all set to visit Delhi in August this year. Currently, India’s largest source of FDI is Singapore. According to K Shanmugam, Singapore will partner with India and share experiences on urban solutions and urban management keeping in mind the planning of smart cities in the country.

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