Bilateral International Relations Multilateral Prelims cum Mains

Eyes on India

Asia is in a state of flux:


  • BRI: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is reshaping the region’s geography, with roads and railways traversing Eurasia and new ports dotting the Indian Ocean basin.
  • Militarisation of the South China Sea: Beijing’s militarisation of the South China Sea continues, despite negotiations towards a code of conduct.


  • Japan has found itself in an unexpected leadership position, resuscitating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and concluding a trade agreement with the European Union.
  • Tokyo is now contemplating constitutional revisions that would enable it to play a more overt military role.


Countries economically diversifying away from China:

  • Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia have all unveiled strategies to diversify their economic interdependence, away from mainland China and towards Southeast Asia and India.


  1. Trade war:
  • The most recent reason for this diversification away from China is the ongoing trade and tariff war between the U.S. and China.
  1. Countering China’s misuse of strengths:
  • A longer-term concern is Beijing’s use of its economic muscle for political purposes.
  • It has done so when suspending rare earth metal exports to Japan in 2010 or punishing a major South Korean corporation for Seoul’s decision to install a missile defence system in 2017.
  1. Lack of access and reciprocity from China:
  • China’s limited market growth potential and questions of access and reciprocity are additional considerations.

How are they diversifying away from China:


  • Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy is meant to diversify investments to more promising markets in Southeast Asia, India, and Africa.

South Korea:

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in has unveiled a New Southern Policy.
  • While the policy is focussed on Southeast Asia, it also makes India Korea’s key partner for cooperation.


  • Taiwan, a G20-sized economy whose political status is disputed, has announced a New Southbound Policy with significant accompanying investments in India by Taiwanese electronics manufacturers.


  • Australia’s government has commissioned an ambitious India Economic Strategy with the goal of making India its third-largest investment destination and export destination by 2035.


Way ahead – India can potentially be a great investment destination:

  • Political concerns are increasingly informing economic preferences.
  • Politically, therefore, the stars are aligning in Asia for the acceleration of India’s economic growth.
  • Investors, increasingly backed by their governments, are increasingly focussed on the Indian market.

But many hurdles remain:

  • There remain many hurdles, including more protectionist sentiments taking root, legacy of poorly-negotiated trade deals, general election around the corner, and uneven economic liberalisation.
  • As a result, the likelihood of India taking full advantage of these opportunities remains slim.



GS Paper II: International Relations

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