Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Vientiane, Laos on Wednesday to attend two important meetings – the 14th Indo-Asean summit and the East Asia forum.
Here are four things you need to know about the visit:
1) India-Asean summit
This is the third summit between India and the 10-nation grouping that Modi will be attending. The Asean countries--- Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines and Thailand—remain central to India’s Act East policy. The Asean has a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion and an annual economic growth rate of 4.6%.
2) What kind of cooperation India has with Asean countries?
The cooperation between India and Asean bloc can be broadly classified into political, economic, security and cultural. The ties became a strategic partnership in 2012. At present, there are 30 official and seven ministerial meetings between India and the Asean. The total India- Asean trade is $6,404 billion. The security ties encompass maritime security, counter terrorism and cyber security. Many Asean countries have territorial disputes with China over South China Sea and they don’t see the rise of Beijing as benign.
3) India East Asia summit
East Asia summit consist leaders of ten Asean countries plus China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, India, Russia and the US. As a bloc, the East Asia summit forum accounts for 55% of the global population and 55% of the global GDP. India is closely associated with the grouping in various fields of cooperation and it includes the setting up of Nalanda University.
4) South China sea dispute
It’s that time of the year when talks on the need for a code of conduct in the South China sea rise to a fever pitch. But nothing substantial comes up subsequently. China claims almost all of the sea, through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually. But the waters of the sea approach the coasts of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations.
The Philippine government on Wednesday released what it says are surveillance pictures of Chinese coast guard ships and barges at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea—a charge promptly dismissed by the Chinese government.