Two of the non-member G7 countries invited to the G7 Summit held in Hiroshima were Indonesia and India. Indonesia – which is the current chair of Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – and India which holds the presidency of G20 for 2023, have taken an independent stance vis-à-vis the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Both countries have called for an end to the conflict, and also flagged the need to resolve issues pertaining to global supply chains, arising out of the conflict, yet they have not criticised Russia outright. It would be pertinent to point out, that India has been purchasing oil from Russia at discounted prices. Indonesia on its part had refused to supply arms to Ukraine (Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited both Russia and Ukraine last year).
India has also been highlighting the need to raise the voice of the Global South on important issues as Chair of G20. Before leaving for the G7 Summit in an interview to a Japanese publication — Nikkei Asian Review — Indian PM Narendra Modi said that he would ‘amplify the voices and concerns of the Global South’ at the G7 Summit.
In an interview to another Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbuni, Modi had reiterated the above point and also said: “Strengthening collaboration between the G7 and G20 is vital in addressing global challenges like climate change, supply chain disruptions, economic recovery, energy instability, healthcare, food security, and peace and security.”
The China factor
At the G7 Summit, while on the one hand the differences between India and Indonesia and Western countries over the Russia-Ukraine conflict and several other global economic issues was evident, it was quite evident that one area which binds G7 countries and developing countries – especially India – is the need to reduce economic dependence upon China by altering global supply chains, and also find common cause vis-à-vis Beijing on its increasingly belligerent approach in Asia.
On the side-lines of G7 summit, meeting of leaders of the Quad grouping was held. While during this meeting, China was not directly named, it was clear that on a several issues including security, investments and technology Quad countries seek to enhance cooperation for countering the China’s domination and possible security threats in the tech sphere. The Quad Joint Principles for Secure Software said: “The Quad partners recognize the security risks posed by lack of adequate controls to prevent tampering with the software supply chain by adversarial and non-adversarial threats. By leveraging the voice of the Quad, we can promote and strengthen a culture where software security is by design and default….”
India which has been a pro-active player in the Quad and Indian PM Modi said that India would be happy to host the next Quad Summit in 2024. He also hailed the grouping saying that it would continue to work for ‘global good.’
What is also interesting is that in spite of ASEAN countries including its current chair Indonesia and the West, especially US differing on key issues, the Quad joint Statement clearly states: “We strongly support Indonesia’s 2023 ASEAN Chairmanship and its Chair theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth… We will continue to strengthen our respective relationships with ASEAN and seek opportunities for greater Quad collaboration in support of the AOIP.”
ASEAN countries especially Singapore, Indonesia, Phillippines and Malaysia share close economic ties with both US and China and need to walk a tightrope in the current geopolitical scenario.
It would be pertinent to point out however, that while Indonesia has taken an independent stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict as mentioned earlier, ASEAN countries have been uncomfortable with US’ increasingly aggressive approach vis-à-vis China especially ‘decoupling’ in areas like technology and economy. ASEAN countries have also been speaking in favour of de-dollarisation – or lesser dependence on the US dollar for trade transactions. Malaysian PM Anwar has also spoken recently about the idea of an Asian Monetary Fund (a concept he had first proposed as Malaysia’s Finance Minister in the 1990s).
At the same time, ASEAN countries especially Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines are important in the context of the US goal of shifting global supply chains. The ASEAN region – specifically Vietnam along with India has been the biggest beneficiary of US tech giant Apple’s objective of diversifying its manufacturing operations.
The recent G7 meeting, where several developing countries were invited, as well as the Quad meeting on the side-lines highlights the complexities of the ‘global order’ and reiterates the limitations of viewing the geopolitical landscape from traditional zero-sum perspectives.
[Photo by Number 10, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
Tridivesh Singh Maini is a New Delhi based analyst interested in Punjab-Punjab linkages as well as Partition Studies. Maini co-authored ‘Humanity Amidst Insanity: Hope During and After the Indo-Pak Partition’ (New Delhi: UBSPD, 2008) with Tahir Malik and Ali Farooq Malik. He can be reached at [email protected].