From the Viewsroom

Ruckus over Aukus

Amiti Sen | Updated on September 27, 2021

The new grouping is a win-win for India for countering China

Aukus — the newly formed security alliance between the US, Australia and the UK for the Indo-Pacific region — is creating a needless ruckus. True, it does not include India and Japan and neither are they likely to be in it in the near future, as made clear by Washington. But this should not be hurting India’s interests or pride. It is obvious that increased vigil by Western powers in the Indo-Pacific and over the South China sea is directed at countering China’s expanding influence in the region.

That in itself should be good news for India. India already has allied with the US, Australia and Japan to form the Quad, which strategically and economically wants to take on China’s might in the Indo-Pacific. The Quad vaccine drive and supply chain resilience initiative to reduce dependence on supplies from China are already being rolled out by the four, inviting verbal taunts from Beijing.

Quad is, however, not a military alliance although the four countries have been participating in the Malabar exercise since 2020, holding naval drills in the Pacific. So, a competition between the Quad and Aukus creating heartburn for India is unlikely.

In fact, being out of Aukus could come as a diplomatic relief as New Delhi does not have to deal with the chagrin of France, a long time friend, which at the moment is seeing red over the formation of the alliance. Paris is upset over losing an estimated $40-billion submarine contract entered into with Australia in 2016 as Canberra has now decided to build nuclear powered submarines with the help of the US and the UK.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron last week, just before leaving for Washington, shows that both countries are keen on maintaining friendly relations. Without having to take sides or feel slighted, India can sit back and revel in the discomfort Aukus is creating for the mighty China.

Published on September 27, 2021

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