India focused on free and open Indo-Pacific: PM Modi at East Asia Summit
India is focused on a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and the principle of the centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told an annual summit of 18 regional nations on Wednesday.
While addressing the virtual East Asia Summit, Modi also emphasised the importance of resilient global value chains and proposed the idea of developing global standards for cyber security, people familiar with matter said on condition of anonymity.
He reiterated India’s commitment to providing vaccines sponsored by the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad to Indo-Pacific countries, and recalled India’s support of $1 million to the ASEAN Covid-19 Recovery Fund.
“Reaffirmed India’s focus on a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and the principle of ASEAN Centrality in the region,” Modi tweeted after addressing the meeting held on the margins of the annual ASEAN Summit under the presidency of Brunei.
“India remains committed to strengthening respect for shared values of multilateralism, rules-based international order, international law and sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations,” he said in another tweet.
Though the prime minister did not name any country in his tweet, his remarks were an apparent reference to China’s aggressive behaviour across the region, including its territorial disputes with several ASEAN members in the South China Sea.
The East Asia Summit was joined by the leaders of ASEAN states and other participating countries such as Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US. The external affairs ministry described the discussions between Modi and the other leaders at the summit as a “fruitful exchange of views”.
Modi highlighted India’s efforts to fight the pandemic through vaccines and medical supplies and spoke about the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” campaign for post-pandemic recovery and in ensuring resilient global value chains. The virtual summit also discussed important regional and international issues, including terrorism, the situation in the South China Sea, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the situation in North Korea and Myanmar. Modi also highlighted the synergies between the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative.
The summit adopted three statements on mental health, economic recovery through tourism and sustainable recovery, which were co-sponsored by India. This was the first time since 2017 that a US president attended the summit, part of three-day high-level meetings hosted by Brunei.
Hassanal Bolkiah, the sultan and prime minister of Brunei, said vaccination is key to overcoming the pandemic and called for cooperation among members of summit to ensure vaccines are affordable and accessible across the region. In this context, he noted that several participating countries are among the top Covid-19 vaccine producers and account for more than 70% of global production.
Modi will also participate in the ASEAN-India Summit on Thursday.