Modi Pulls Off A Deft Foreign-policy Balancing Act Before World Powers

In what was probably his last major foreign policy speech before the 2019 general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined India’s position for the world’s military and strategic leadership at the Shangri La security dialogue in Singapore on June 1.

No doubt there will be other platforms and forums like the BRICS summit in July in Johannesburg and the UN General Assembly in New York in September, but for now, this speech was an attempt to articulate India’s position clearly to the world without offending two major suitors for New Delhi’s attention and support, the US and China.

The fact that both US defence secretary James Mattis and Lieutenant-General He Li, deputy head of the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Sciences, who led the Chinese delegation at the dialogue publicly praised the speech is a sign that he succeeded.

However, it is important to understand the subtext of the speech, said a senior Indian official. For one, while emphasising the long-standing centrality of Southeast Asia in India’s foreign policy, the speech made it clear that India was not going to indulge in Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea just yet like the US Read More

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