Virtual meeting of RIC foreign ministers was held amid rising tensions in the disputed Ladakh region between India and China. Originally planned for March 2020 but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was conducted as Russia’s initiative to mark the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War II, which resulted in the formation of the UN. The grouping has a high dependence on Russia’s close diplomatic ties with both India and China. While the Russian side maintained that it would not mediate between India and China, it also reiterated its support to India’s bid for permanent membership in the UNSC.
The Indian Ocean is the 3rd largest ocean in the world. Its geopolitical importance stems from vast and largely unexplored mineral deposits and also serving as shipping highway. It is surrounded by 51 countries representing 25% of the world’s landmass. In the post-COVID world, the world nations will have to step up efforts to make up for the lost economic grounds. For this, IORA is being regarded as one of the possible avenues for improving international ties- especially as its one of the low hanging fruits.
Asia-pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit of 2020 has still not been ruled out by the host country Malaysia as it said that the leader’s summit of APEC is still possible despite the pandemic. The next year’s host New Zealand has already said that it will use virtual platforms to conduct the meeting due to travel restrictions and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Already the 2018 Chile summit was canceled because of violent anti-government protests.
At a time when the whole world is battling the deadly COVID-19 crisis and when the virus has become the biggest story in the world of diplomacy, it has become important to look at how India is playing the game of diplomacy and shaping its foreign policy to meet its own demanding needs. The world witnessed a lot of change in its foreign policy approaches and many established bonds have been broken. It is a time when the world is witnessing heightened tensions among some nations while some transformed this into an opportunity for themselves. India has both hard realities to face and at the same time has ample opportunities to rise as a world leader. It thus becomes important to see how India is dealing with the present crisis and transforms it into an opportunity in the foreign policy domain.
The Biden Administration, which currently lacks its own China strategy, is looking to continue and expand Trump-era foreign policies. These protectionist and unilateral policies make it difficult to implement long-term policies focusing on creating a balance of power with China. This shortcoming is also making it difficult for the US to forge alliances with other countries to oppose China’s expansionism and exploitative trade ties. This is especially true when it comes to India, which is facing several new challenges under the Biden Administration. The US conducting the freedom of navigation operations in Indian waters without prior consent is a case in point.