India-Australia leg was the missing link in the quadrilateral strategic partnership among India, Australia, Japan and the USA to contain China.
On June 4, India and Australia strengthened defence ties through a pact to boost military logistics support and maritime cooperation. Heightened tensions with regional superpower China drove both the nations together. With the coronavirus pandemic restricting international travel, the two leaders held a virtual summit online and signed a Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement to upgrade their strategic partnership. Agreements on education, mining, defence science and technology followed.
“India is committed to further intensifying comprehensive relations with Australia,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. “This is important not only for our two nations, but is also needed for the Indo-Pacific region as well as for the world,” he reiterated. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison added that “in a time like this, we want to deal very much with friends and trusted partners”. In a joint statement both the leaders resolved that the Foreign and Defence Ministers will now meet at least biannually to discuss strategic issues.
Morrison’s two earlier scheduled visits to India were postponed- first one in January because of the Australian bushfires and the March visit due to the Corona pandemic. Canberra has been at loggerheads with Beijing after Chinese anger over Australia’s push to probe the origins of the coronavirus.
India-China tensions flared in May over Chinese invasion across their 3,488-kilometre frontier. The border has yet not been demarcated. China followed by India have moved in hundreds of extra troops. China’s increasing assertiveness in the region has pushed India and Australia closer together to shape their dealing with China. India-Australia leg was the missing link in the quadrilateral strategic partnership among India, Australia, Japan and the USA to contain China. Now this has been strengthened. Great countries, great democracies, great people flock together.
China is the major trading partner of all ‘quadrilateral’ countries which none dares to anger, let alone confront. China has stretched this to the limit inviting actions to tackle yellow peril. India now has military logistics pact with the USA, France, South Korea, Singapore and Australia-a welcomed strategic development. The time is here and now as countries opposed to China get aligned in strategic partnerships. China must shun its policy of expansion and attitudes towards India. India is not scared of China, rather China is afraid of taking any action as the West is aligning itself with India. This quadrilateral will facilitate India’s access to sophisticated weapons from the US to fight against China.
There are however caveats: this alliance is not like the NATO, so no country will come and fight with India against China; there will be limitations in skills to operate sophisticated weapons from the US; and China is too aggressive and powerful in its policies. Now, the Chinese threat is known to the entire world. India-Australia friendship is veering in the right direction.
China has a powerful military, but can’t go full hog to be branded as a rogue nation. Even smaller nations-Bhutan, Myanmar, Taiwan or Vietnam-will fight back border conflicts. Unlike China, no country in today’s world thinks of taking other’s land. China annexed Tibet by force against popular will and is now eyeing the Indian Territory. Situation may flare up as none is backing down. West supports India completely.
South East Asia is struggling to move past Chinese influence post Corona pandemic. Africa, Europe and America are re-evaluating China on turbulence in Hong Kong, economic crisis and debt-trap policies.
Tide has turned against China post Wuhan-scare. South Korea, Japan, India and Australia are exchanging island to counter China.
The world has realised that China traps the poor nations through huge loans and subsequently capture their assets. China offered loans to Pakistan under the CPEC but took control of every operation and brought own work force to replace the locals.
Can Pakistan ensure that yellow doesn’t eat up green with all the debts looming. Powerful alliances in the world now pitch democracy against communism. Pakistan and North Korea are the only countries left as China’s allies. China will make a grave mistake underestimating India.
Chinese influence is sliding fast in all the regions including Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. Everyone looks at China with suspicion. Australia and India can use the defence bases in each other’s country in turbulent times.
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