India-Asean Summit: PM Modi Set to Boost Maritime Security 2023

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India-Asean Summit
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Jakarta, September 6, 2023 – In a significant diplomatic endeavor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to embark on a journey to Jakarta, Indonesia, to participate in the 20th India-Asean Summit, marking the 18th East Asia Summit as well. The primary objective of this summit is to foster an initiative that strengthens maritime security cooperation—a matter of paramount importance in the modern geopolitical landscape.

What is Asean?

For those unfamiliar with Asean, it stands for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional organization established on August 8, 1967, in the vibrant city of Bangkok, Thailand. It was brought into existence through the visionary Bangkok Declaration, endorsed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand. Over the years, this group has expanded its membership, and currently, it boasts ten member nations: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Cambodia. The inaugural Asean Summit took place in Bali, Indonesia, in 1976, with the motto “One Vision, One Identity, One Community,” and August 8 is celebrated as Asean Day.

Furthermore, Asean has forged ties with eight dialogue partners, including Australia, China, India, the United States, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and New Zealand, enriching its diplomatic outreach and global significance.

Why the India-Asean Summit is Extraordinary:

The upcoming Asean-India Summit holds special significance for several reasons. Scheduled just days before the G20 Summit, Prime Minister Modi’s visit underscores India’s commitment to fostering robust relations with Southeast Asia. Notably, this will be the first India-Asean Summit since the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement was established in 2022.

The summit’s central themes encompass enhancing maritime security, bolstering digital cooperation, and fortifying cyber security measures, among other vital areas. Additionally, the summit aims to unveil initiatives for future cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region—a region that has garnered increasing global attention in recent years.

The economic front also reflects the thriving relationship between India and Asean. In the fiscal year 2022-23, bilateral trade reached a remarkable $132 billion, constituting 10% of India’s total trade. Moreover, both sides have pledged to complete a comprehensive review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement by 2025, further boosting economic collaboration.

In a significant development, India recently initiated direct flight connectivity to Vietnam and Indonesia, enhancing people-to-people ties and trade links.

Read Also: “First Woman Hanged in Singapore in 20 Years: Saridewi Djamani Hanged for Drug Trafficking” 

Dispute Over China’s New Map: Implications for the Summit

Before the summit’s commencement, tensions are simmering over China’s recent release of its “standard map of China,” which claims territories including Taiwan, the South China Sea, Arunachal Pradesh, and Aksai Chin as Chinese territories. India has unequivocally rejected this map and lodged a strong protest.

However, what adds intrigue to the situation is that some Asean nations, with vested interests in the South China Sea, have also expressed their displeasure. Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have openly rejected China’s territorial claims. The ongoing Asean Summit promises to be a stage for further developments on this front, as regional powers assert their stance on the matter.

Myanmar Denied Chairmanship in 2026

A noteworthy development within the Asean framework is the Southeast Asian nations’ decision to deny Myanmar the chairmanship of the Asean summit in 2026. This decision, consistent with the group’s rotational system, is a substantial setback for Myanmar’s ruling junta. The junta had hoped for this position to garner international recognition for its governance, but this aspiration now faces considerable challenges.

It is worth recalling that in 2021, the Myanmar military removed the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, leading to a tumultuous political climate in the nation.

The India-Asean Summit is poised to be a stage for multifaceted discussions, shaping the trajectory of regional cooperation and diplomacy in Southeast Asia and beyond. The world watches closely as leaders converge in Jakarta to navigate the complex currents of geopolitics and maritime security.

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