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ASEAN-India naval ties are symbolic, for now

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Subject

The outlook for Indian naval engagement with South-east Asian countries and ASEAN.

Significance

At the ASEAN summit in mid-November, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined India's 'Look East' policy, pledging to cultivate diplomatic, economic and security relationships with South-east Asia. One manifestation of Delhi's willingness to undertake a more strategic regional role is the Indian navy's growing portfolio of partnerships with South-east Asian navies. Amid concerns over China's maritime assertiveness, India's navy has been welcomed in the region as a security partner.

Impacts

  • India will avoid South-east Asian undertakings that may provoke China.
  • Delhi will need to define 'Look East' policies concretely to convince South-east Asia fully of Indian strategic utility.
  • Modi will expand bilateral naval exercises, humanitarian aid and counter-piracy/smuggling efforts in South-east Asia.
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