At the recently held G20 Summit, India’s participation in the Quad meeting and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's informal meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US Vice President Mike Pence can be seen as an effort to build balanced and cordial relationships with the major global players.
India has a set of convergences and divergences of interests with China, USA and Russia. We have so far been able to keep these relations separate from one another.
India’s differences with China on certain aspects of Sino-Pak nexus, South China Sea row and India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) can also be viewed as a convergence of interests with the US.
Similarly, India’s differences with the US on trade, climate change, and CAATSA, in the context of Russia, can be seen as the convergence of interests with China.
The silver lining is that the US, being our strategic partner, will like to have India's support it in its military operations in case Pakistan does not serve its strategic interest. The US waiver on Chabahar port and import of Iranian oil for the next six months is a welcome step by the US towards India.
After India's suggestion to expand the scope and dimension of QUAD, opening it up to other affected countries, there is a general feeling amongst other QUAD members that India is perhaps getting softer towards China.
The reality is that India has an independent foreign policy. In the Indo-Pacific region, it stands with US, Japan and Australia in checking Chinese encroachment of global commons like the South China Sea. India seeks to enable seamless movement in international water and rule-based order.
India, therefore, has to maintain harmonious relations with all its strategic partners and neighbours to pursue its national interest. Despite such complexities, the silver lining is that the US, as well as China, want better relations with India.
Russia also will not like to lose the largest purchaser of its military hardware and a strategic partnership which stood the test of time even in ‘Heated Cold War’ era.
The number of bilateral and trilateral meetings attended by India at the G20 Summit clearly explains the balanced diplomatic exercises carried out by India as per its national interest. Indian participation in two significant trilateral meetings - US-Japan-India and China-Russia-India clearly indicates the efforts required to balance relations with two separate groupings.
At G20, India flagged the issue of cooperation in dealing with the fugitive offenders and countering terrorism besides many other issues that represent India’s strategic interest.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)