Sino-Indian military posturing and muscle-flexing continues in the eastern Ladakh region. Alongside diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India should insist on the proper delimitation and demarcation of the LAC, pending a permanent settlement of the border, while also firmly holding its ground in any prolonged standoff through the approaching winter.
PNG and Timor-Leste are both facing significant economic and political obstacles and are likely to turn towards China for help. Australia is not in a strong position to offer a counterbalance.
Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s new Prime Minister, will likely continue down the foreign policy path set by his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, as he inherits pressing domestic issues ranging from COVID-19 to the economy and a new East Asian security framework.
The return of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Sri Lankan Prime Minister will likely attract further Chinese investments and loans to the country, but has caused concern in New Delhi about Colombo’s further inclination towards Beijing. India, with its sluggish economic growth and limited financial capacity to lure Sri Lanka away from China, must instead continue to support Sri Lanka in in such matters as housing projects, education, health, transportation systems, small and medium business development and training.
The issue of independence in West Papua will likely reignite as Indonesia renews its autonomy laws for the region. The prospects for West Papua’s independence movement are bleak; Indonesia simply has too much at stake in the region and does not face enough external pressure to hold an independence referendum. Further compounding matters, in the current geopolitical climate, concerns relating to China will also heighten sensitivities surrounding the potential vulnerability of an independent West Papua.
At a ceremony to hand over the first tranche of 36 Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft to the Indian Air Force, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly was clear about her country’s support for India as a primary strategic partner.
Washington’s upgraded relationship with the Maldives and its invitation to build ports and bases in Palau can only add to Beijing’s consternation – and increase the likelihood of conflict between them.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans can afford to ignore India or the Indian-American community, sizeable proportions of which are located in key battleground states. Given the size of India as a market and its increasing strategic relevance, a future Biden Presidency is unlikely to significantly change the direction of US foreign policy towards India. What remains to be seen is whether the choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate helps Joe Biden in attracting more of the South Asian vote in general and the Indian vote in particular.
Indonesia, and to a lesser extent India, have jurisdiction over the major maritime choke points of the Malacca Strait, the Six-Degree Channel and the Sunda Strait, through all of which large volumes of maritime trade pass. Both have been made uneasy by China’s expansionist maritime activities and its ambivalence towards international law. As custodians of vital maritime choke points, India and Indonesia have a duty to ensure that the rules-based order is maintained in those waters.
While the increasing international pushback against China’s coercive tendencies may be viewed as the international community finally standing up to Beijing, the more pertinent question ought to be: how much more pressure can General Secretary Xi endure without feeling overwhelmed or cornered and lashing out militarily?