Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar in an interaction on “Connecting The Bay of Bengal: India, Japan And Regional Cooperation” organised by Carnegie India in New Delhi on Thursday emphasised the need to “get out of overly competitive narrative” when it comes to the region. Even as India, Japan are working towards a enhancing cooperation in development projects the region, Foreign Secretary Jaishankar was quick to add that insecurities should not be at play when engaging to key players of the region.
“Are we insecure with other players – no point getting insecure about presence of other players. We are comfortable working with other countries. We are developing a broader vision which goes with broader interests. We should view the entire Indian Ocean region in a more integrative manner”, he said.
While discussing the need for regional cooperation, Foreign Secretary Jaishankar and Japanese ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu, both were asked questions on the regional economic and strategic war that is underway with China and how does that play out in the Indo-Pacific theatre with China opening up initiatives such as the One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) project. Responding to it, Jaishankar said, “India has been a pioneer of connectivity in many ways , and I am not even talking about Grand Trunk road, which came up later. We have more ownership of Silk Road than anyone else.”
“We may have lost that branding at some point. We have a certain view of how connectivity projects should come about”. Adding that while there should be no competition, the concerns raised by India on China’s territorial aggression has only been reiterated by various countries from across the world. “Many of the concerns we articulated in the summer have become broader international concerns. We hear it in Japan, US and Europe,” he said.
Ambassador Hiramatsu also endorsed Secretary Jaishankar on the need for fair play but also added that nations need to respect rule of law. “India plays an important role in development of the open Indo-Pacific strategy. We are interested that the rule of law and norms prevail in this region, especially in the maritime domain,” he said.
Asia, many say, has become the leading driver of global economy and India, China, Japan (from Far East) its key players. Hence while there is a realisation in India that the old economic routes such as the Silk Road should not be allowed to be appropriated by China alone, there also is a major move to think for economic alternatives to reviving the historical routes of India which India has “ownership” of.
By: India Today
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