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Editorial of the Day: The Rearrangement of Great Power and Regional Politics (Indian Express)

Context: The article, firstly talks about the recent yet significant geopolitical developments across the globe such as the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to India to strengthen the Indo-Pacific partnership and the most awaited visit of the Chinese President to Moscow to consolidate the Eurasian alliance with the Russian leader.

Secondly, the article discusses the recalibration of relationships among major middle powers such as the recent ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia and the first summit between South Korea and Japan that marked a significant development between two major global economies and neighbours.

The Rearrangement of Great Power and Regional Politics Background

Major Happenings in the World Geopolitics:

  • Restoration of Saudi-Iran Relations:
    • Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have had constrained relations with each other for decades, agreed to restore diplomatic relations in an agreement brokered by China.
    • This deal could potentially reduce tensions and conflicts in the region and pave the way for greater cooperation on regional issues such as the Yemeni civil war and the Syrian conflict.
    • This is expected to eventually restore regional stability in the West Asia Region.
  • Strengthening India-Japan Relations:
    • The recent visit of the Japanese Prime Minister to India highlights the importance of the India-Japan partnership, and provides an opportunity for both countries to strengthen their cooperation on security, trade, and regional connectivity.
    • A new plan on the Free and Open Indo-Pacific and plans to further strengthen the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two nations are add ons to the already existing areas of cooperation like defence and security, trade and investment, S&T, Education, healthcare, and critical and emerging technologies.
    • This becomes more significant as India and Japan are holding the Presidencies of the G20 and G7, respectively.
  • China-Russia growing Proximity:
    • The visit of the Chinese President to Moscow to highlight the growing strategic partnership between China and Russia, which has become increasingly important in recent years due to their shared interests in challenging the dominance of the United States in global affairs.
    • The two countries have been cooperating closely on defence, energy, and infrastructure development. Also, the visit signifies China’s efforts to deepen its engagement with Russia and other countries in the Eurasian region as part of its Belt and Road Initiative that aims to promote economic connectivity and cooperation across Asia, Europe, and Africa.
    • It comes at a time when the US is increasingly focused on countering China’s rise, and strengthening of ties between China and Russia is expected to potentially impact the balance of power in international affairs.
  • Japan-South Korea Summit: The first summit in nearly twelve years between the leaders of South Korea and Japan holds significant implications for global geopolitics in the sense that:
    • Firstly, it marks a potential shift in the long-standing rivalry between the two countries, which has been characterized by historical disputes and tensions over territorial and historical issues.
    • Secondly, given that South Korea and Japan are major global economies and key players in the East Asian region, their cooperation is important for addressing regional security challenges, including the nuclear threat from North Korea.
    • Thirdly, the summit holds implications for the broader geopolitical landscape. Improved relations between the two nations could lead to a stronger US-led coalition in the region, aimed at balancing China’s rise.
  • The Germany-Japan Agreement: The recent agreement between Germany and Japan to coordinate their policies on Russia and reduce their excessive dependence on China-centred supply chains holds several implications for global geopolitics.
    • Both Germany and Japan are major economies and rely heavily on imports from China, which has led to concerns about the vulnerability of their supply chains in the event of disruptions or geopolitical tensions.
    • Germany and Japan both have a stake in maintaining stability in the East Asian region, and coordination on issues related to Russia could help to strengthen their positions in the international arena.
    • The nations’ reduced dependence on China would possibly impact the balance of power in the region.

Decoding the Editorial

The article talks about the current geopolitical situation and what changes are taking place among major powers in the world, according to recent events.

Implications of the New World Order:

  • Shift in the Regional Power Dynamics of the Middle East: The shift in power dynamics in the Middle East could affect the geopolitical landscape in various ways.
    • China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): China’s BRI aims to build infrastructure and connectivity across Eurasia, including the Middle East. Any shift in power dynamics could affect China’s plans for the region, potentially leading to changes in its investment and infrastructure projects.
    • US-Iran relations: The US has had a tense relationship with Iran for many years, and any shift in power dynamics in the Middle East could affect this relationship. If Iran gains significant power, it could become a more influential regional actor, potentially challenging US interests in the region.
  • The US-China Power Tussle:
    • The article states that the recent reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran is viewed as a diplomatic victory for China and a setback for the US.
    • However, the recent resolution of tensions between South Korea and Japan is seen as a significant diplomatic win for the US and a loss for China, which had been trying to bring South Korea closer to itself and away from the US and Japan.
    • The US has also gained the support of the Philippines which was previously seen inclined to China under its former government.
  • China’s Emergence as the Global Peacemaker:
China’s efforts to Become a Global Peacemaker US efforts to Maintain Balance of Power
China has increased its participation in international organizations and forums such as the UN and ASEAN to promote its vision of a peaceful and harmonious world order. The US has maintained its military presence and alliances in key regions such as Asia and the Middle East to counter China’s growing influence.
China has proposed the Belt and Road Initiative to promote economic development and connectivity across Asia, Europe, and Africa. It has also launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to fund infrastructure projects in the region. The US has imposed economic sanctions on China and other countries that violate international norms and has sought to strengthen its own economic partnerships with countries in the region.
China has sought to resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy, such as in the case of the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea. It has also played a key role in brokering peace talks in Afghanistan. The US has used its military and economic power to align with its interests, such as in the case of Iran and North Korea.
In the Russia-Ukraine conflict, what China follows is the principle of neutrality and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

It has called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict through dialogue and negotiations.

The United States has taken a more proactive stance in supporting Ukraine, including providing military aid to the Ukrainian government in its conflict with Russia.

The US has also imposed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

India’s Diplomacy:

The article discusses three different views on how India should approach its diplomatic relations with Russia and China.

  • View Russia as a less reliable partner: India may need to re-evaluate its relationship with Russia and explore other options to counter China’s growing influence as Russia is seen as a growing junior partner to China.
  • Russia-India relations as independent and immune to change: Another view suggests that Russia-India relations are independent and shall remain so if Russia maintains separate tracks in its relations with China and India, allowing India to continue to rely on Russia as a strategic partner.
  • Hedging against the worst possible outcomes: The third view takes a more cautious approach wrt its relations with Russia and China by building stronger strategic ties with other global powers such as the US, Europe, and Japan.
  • Navigating the turbulence in great power relations: India shall aim to navigate the changing great power relations by balancing its relationships with great powers, while also building stronger ties with other global powers to safeguard its own interests in the current geopolitical environment.

Beyond the Editorial

India’s Flexible and Open-Ended Foreign Policy:

India’s foreign policy in the changing world geopolitics is based on a pragmatic approach that seeks to balance its strategic interests with its commitment to maintaining its non-aligned stance.

  • Strategic Partnership with World Powers: One of the key priorities of India’s foreign policy in the changing world geopolitics is to strengthen its strategic partnerships with major powers while maintaining its non-aligned stance.
    • India has sought to deepen its strategic partnership with the United States, which has become one of its most important partners in the security, economic, and technological domains and also sought to maintain its traditional partnerships with Russia and other countries, including those in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.
  • Partnership with the Neighbours: India has sought to strengthen its partnerships with neighbouring countries, including those in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region. It has also played an active role in regional organizations such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), and has pursued initiatives such as the Indo-Pacific vision to enhance its regional influence and security.
  • Promotes Economic Interests: India’s foreign policy seeks to promote its economic interests, including through its participation in regional and global economic forums such as the BRICS, G20, and WTO. India has sought to diversify its trade and investment partnerships, with a focus on developing countries in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

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