Hanoi/New Delhi: – India and ASEAN approved a ‘Plan of Action’ to increase defence cooperation to counter the challenges faced in the marine security, terrorism and cybersecurity sectors. The indications of increasing defence cooperation with India at a time when the tension between the ASEAN countries and China is intensifying become significant. Only a few days ago, the ambassadors of the ASEAN countries held a meeting with the Indian defence secretary to discuss the speeding up of various projects.
A virtual ASEAN-India ministerial meeting was held on Saturday. Foreign Ministers of ten ASEAN countries attended the meeting with Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. The ‘Plan of Action’ for the years 2021 to 2025 was approved following the discussions in the meeting. The strategic partnerships between the ASEAN countries and India, in various sectors, were also reviewed in the conference.
As per the new Plan of Action, there are indications of India playing a major role in the various projects undertaken by the ASEAN countries. Cooperation with India to counter the challenges faced in the marine security, terrorism and cybersecurity sectors will be prioritised. The Plan of Action also mentions freedom of marine movement, trade without barriers, stopping use of force and resolving disputes within the framework of the international laws. The issues included by the ASEAN in the Plan of Action with India is believed to be an attempt to lash out at China.
Against the background of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese regime has initiated strong movements to fulfil its ambition to dominate the world. The Chinese activities in the marine sectors of the ASEAN countries like the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea and the intrusion attempts in the Indian border are a part of the same ambition. India, the United States and other countries are taking rapid steps to counter Chinese aggression. The South-East Asian countries also have started raising their voices against China and the developing cooperation with India and the other major countries seems to be a preparation in the same direction.