India's Proximity Archives

India's Proximity Archives

South Asia
by Shreyas Deshmukh

Following the 15th India-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue on July 27, Foreign Minister of Japan Yoshimasa Hayashi visited Sri Lanka and Maldives on July 29 and 30 respectively. Minister Hayashi met M.U.M. Ali Sabry, Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, and discussed issues related to the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), IORA, and Sri Lankan debt restructuring. Minister Sabry invited Japanese investments in Sri Lanka, particularly in sectors such as power, infrastructure, and dedicated investment zones, as well as in the green and digital economies. In Maldives, Minister Hayashi held a meeting with Maldivian Minister of Defense Mariya Ahmed Didi. Both sides agreed to “deepen security cooperation” and “work together to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific”.

On July 31 special ceremony was held to commemorate 10 years of CPEC in Islamabad. Vice Premier of the State Council of China, He Lifeng attended the celebration as a special representative of President Xi Jinping and signed six MOUs to initiate the second phase of CPEC which includes establishing an export exchange mechanism and Karakoram Highway Phase-II realignment. Chinese President Xi Jinping in a congratulatory message said, “China will work with Pakistan to aim for high-standard, sustainable and livelihood-enhancing outcomes and further build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into an exemplary project of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.” Earlier Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced that “Chinese EXIM Bank has rolled over for two years principal amounts of following loans totalling USD 2.4bn — which are due for repayment $1.2bn each in FY24 and FY25.” Meanwhile, four Pakistani state-owned petroleum companies signed a MoU on July 27, to facilitate USD 10 billion Saudi investment in a new oil refinery at Gwadar, Balochistan. The government is negotiating with Aramco to execute the greenfield refinery project with a production capacity of 300,000 barrels per day.

Southeast Asia
by Anshita Shukla

The 3rd round of Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between India and Laos was convened in Vientiane, Lao PDR on July 27, 2023. The Indian delegation was led by Mr. Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, and the Laos delegation by H.E. Mr. Phoxay Khaykhamphithoune, Deputy Foreign Minister. The two sides signed five MoUs for implementation of five Quick Impact Projects (QIPs), in the fields of education, health, water facility and IT.

President Marcos Jr. of the Philippines undertook a state visit to Malaysia from July 25-27, 2023. During the three-day visit, President Marcos stated that the two sides are “resolute in empowering the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with capacity-building initiatives, especially in sectors such as the Halal industry, Islamic banking, and food security”. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia and his counterpart discussed ASEAN’s engagement with Myanmar stating to “give some flexibility for neighbouring countries to engage on an informal basis without sacrificing the issue of human rights, and the treatment of minorities, particularly the Rohingya.”
On July 31, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that the European Union has restarted negotiations on a free-trade agreement with the Philippines. The talks had paused under the leadership of Rodrigo Duterte as the deadly drug war attracted strong criticism from the West. President Ursula von der Leyen remarked that an FTA between the EU and the Southeast Asian country “has huge potential for both of us in terms of jobs and growth”.

The Myanmar junta has pardoned the former leader Aung San Suu Kyi for five of the nineteen offences for which she was jailed in 2021. This will reduce her scheduled jail time of 33 years by six years, informed Myanmar’s state media. A week prior to this, Aung San Suu Kyi was moved from prison to house arrest in the capital, Naypyitaw. The government has also officially postponed the elections promised to be held in August 2023 while extending the state of emergency in the country by six months. The official statement read that “to be able to vote without any fear, necessary security arrangements are still needed and so the period for the state of emergency is required to extend".

West Asia
by Sanket Joshi

During his visit to Oman from July 31-August 2, Indian Navy Chief, Admiral R Hari Kumar, met with Oman’s Minister of Royal Office, Gen Sultan bin Mohammed Al Nu'amani. Their discussion focused on deepening bilateral defence cooperation and progress made by India in the field of defence manufacturing. Meanwhile, two  suspects were arrested in Mumbai for plotting a terrorist attack on the ‘Chabad House’.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an extraordinary meeting to discuss repeated incidents of the desecration of copies of the Qur'an in Sweden and Denmark. At the meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan reiterated that Riyadh “will not tolerate prejudice toward the Holy Qur'an”, calling for joint efforts to combat them.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly planning a meeting in Jeddah on August 5-6 to discuss Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's peace plan amid the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. A number of countries have been invited to the meeting, including the United States, European nations, Brazil, China, and India. However, it is unlikely that Russia will be invited.

Prior to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to China scheduled for October 2023, the Chinese Ambassador to Israel presented PM Netanyahu with a copy of the book ‘Xi Jinping - The Governance of China’, adding that President Xi is eagerly awaiting Netanyahu's visit. On the other hand, at a UNSC briefing on Palestine, China’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Amb. Zhang Jun expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

by Angana Guha Roy

China has appointed a new leader for the PLA’s Rocket Force, the military unit responsible for overseeing the nation's nuclear arsenal. This announcement came in the wake of media reports indicating a corruption investigation involving its former chief, Li Yuchao. Wang Houbin has been promoted to the rank of general and named the new commander of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force.

Chinese ministries, regulators and the central bank pledged more financing support to small businesses, suggesting an urgency among policymakers to revive the private sector amid a flagging economic recovery. The flurry of initiatives to help private businesses comes after authorities vowed to make the sector "bigger, better and stronger" after small businesses were squeezed during three years of COVID curbs. The private sector accounts for 60 percent of China's gross domestic product and 80 percent of urban jobs. Investors have been awaiting concrete stimulus measures as data suggested the economy still struggled in July.

The United States has formally invited China's newly reappointed foreign minister, Wang Yi, to Washington, after Wang's predecessor was abruptly removed from his post by Beijing.

Amidst the growing friendship between China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF), China has expressed China’s commitment to supporting Zimbabwe’s military. While speaking at the PLA’s 96th Anniversary Celebration in Harare, the Defense Attaché of the Chinese Embassy, Colonel Yonglong Zhu, reaffirmed China’s enduring friendship with Zimbabwe and assured the PLA’s continued support as a reliable partner to the Zimbabwe Defense Forces.

Amidst heightened PLA activity along LAC,  COAS, Gen. Manoj Pande visited forward areas in Ladakh to review the operational preparedness. The Army Chief's visit comes amid continuing tensions along the India-China border.

In an important announcement, Minister of State for Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, declared that India is open to Chinese investment despite border tensions between the two countries. “We are open to doing business with any company anywhere as long as they are investing and conducting their business lawfully and are in compliance with the Indian laws, adding that India was open to all investment, including Chinese”.

Other Developments
Along with Japan and India, China can join debt relief effort for Sri Lanka: Nirmala Sitharaman
BRI shatters Nepal’s hope to graduate from LDC status
Maldives Elections: Pro-China Opposition’s 'India Out' Drive Cashing In on Modi

Central Asia
by Jayantika Rao T.V.

United States’ Special Representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West, along with the Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights, Rina Amiri, visited Astana, Kazakhstan on July 26. They met with colleagues from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan for a C5 1 Special Session on Afghanistan. Within this framework, they discussed several issues, including providing humanitarian assistance, protecting human rights, international cooperation with Afghanistan, ensuring security and combating terrorism.

From July 25-27, a working meeting of the heads of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) member states defence communications management bodies took place in Moscow on behalf of the CSTO Joint Staff. Representatives of the defence agencies of the Republic of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, the CSTO Joint Staff and the CSTO Secretariat attended the event. Colonel General Anatoly Sidorov, Chief of the CSTO Joint Staff, noted that “the most important direction of the CSTO is the improvement of the system of interstate information interaction and the CSTO Troops (Collective Forces) management system, the technical basis of which is the communication system”.  He also noted that the experience of the peacekeeping operation in the Republic of Kazakhstan and the annual joint exercises demonstrated the need to coordinate the efforts of the CSTO member states to improve the communications system. During the meeting, the Russian representative discussed using satellite communications in armed conflict.

The regional dynamics have been affected since the US announced its new sanctions that will affect Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to curb the trade of dual-use technology to Russia. Although Kazakhstan is considered a nominal ally of Russia, Kazakhstan has constantly emphasised the risk of secondary sanctions making them adhere to anti-Russian sanctions. Although smugglers work in the shadows, the Kazakh government has resisted such illicit trade. On the other hand, owing to Kyrgyzstan’s close relationship with Russia, the former has continued its economic cooperation with the latter. It has been reported that Kyrgyzstan is using Kazakhstan’s dependence on the Chu and Talas Rivers for water (both originating and under the control of Kyrgyzstan) to try and compel them to participate in breaking sanctions against Russia. Kazakhstan’s territory offers an easier route than the existing one passing through Central Asia and across the Caspian Sea. Therefore, while Kazakhstan will resist this pressure, the country's water crisis can shift the region's dynamics.

Other Developments
Kyrgyzstan and Turkiyë discuss military-technical cooperation
Central Asia’s Transport Revolution: Role of EU in Shaping Future
Russia Hands Over 1397 Tons of Food Products To Kyrgyzstan Via UN WFP
Azerbaijan arrests Nagorno-Karabakh resident during medical evacuation for "war crime"
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan comments on the Kyrgyz family that went missing in the Caribbean Sea