PM Modi in Jakarta | At ASEAN-India summit, PM calls for building rules-based post-COVID world order

At East Asia Summit PM Modi pitches for everyone’s commitment and joint efforts to strengthen the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries

Updated - September 07, 2023 01:17 pm IST

Published - September 07, 2023 08:46 am IST - JAKARTA

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the venue of 43rd Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 7, 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the venue of 43rd Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 7, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Calling for building a rules-based post-COVID world order, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 7 said the progress of a free and open Indo-Pacific and elevating the voice of the Global South is in the common interest of all.

In his address at the annual ASEAN-India summit in Jakarta in Indonesian capital, Mr. Modi described the 10-nation grouping as the epicentre of growth as the region plays a crucial role in global development.

Also Read | Engagement with ASEAN is an important pillar of India’s ‘Act East’ policy, says PM Modi

The Prime Minister said the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) holds a prominent place in India’s Indo-Pacific initiative and that New Delhi is committed to working “shoulder to shoulder” with it.

ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region, and India and several other countries including the U.S., China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners.

“The 21st century is Asia’s century. It is our century. For this, it is necessary to build a rule-based post-COVID world order and efforts by all for human welfare,” the Prime Minister, co-chairing the summit, said.

“The progress of free and open Indo-Pacific and elevating the voice of the Global South is in the common interest of all,” he said.

The Prime Minister also reaffirmed that ASEAN is the central pillar of India’s Act East Policy and it fully supports ASEAN centrality and its outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

“Our history and geography connect India and ASEAN. Along with shared values, regional unity, peace, prosperity, and a shared belief in a multipolar world also binds us together,” he said, adding the grouping holds a “prominent place” in India’s Indo-Pacific initiative.

“We look forward to working together in futuristic sectors which will enhance human progress.,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at  the annual ASEAN-India summit in Jakarta, Indonesian on September 7, 2023. Photo: X/@narendramodi

“We look forward to working together in futuristic sectors which will enhance human progress.,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the annual ASEAN-India summit in Jakarta, Indonesian on September 7, 2023. Photo: X/@narendramodi

It was the first summit between the two sides since the elevation of their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership last year.

“Today, even in an environment of global uncertainties, there is continuous progress in every field in our mutual cooperation. This is a testament to the strength and resilience of our relationship.”

In his opening remarks, Mr. Modi said, “ASEAN matters because here everyone’s voice is heard, and ASEAN is the epicentre of growth because the ASEAN region plays a crucial role in global development.”

“’Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ — ‘one earth, one family, one future’, this sentiment is also the theme of India’s G-20 Presidency,” Mr. Modi noted.

Multilateralism and rules-based international order are important: PM Modi at East Asia Summit

Against the backdrop of China’s increasing military assertiveness in the South China Sea, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an address at the East Asia Summit, pitched for everyone’s commitment and joint efforts to strengthen the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.

Mr. Modi also said that India believes that the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea should be effective and compliant with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

His comments came days after a number of ASEAN member countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines reacted sharply to Beijing’s territorial claim over the South China Sea in its latest edition of the “standard map of China”.

On August 28, Beijing released the 2023 edition of the “standard map of China” which includes Taiwan, the South China Sea, Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as Chinese territories. India has dismissed the ‘map’ and lodged a strong protest with China over it.

The Prime Minister said all countries in the region have an interest in peace, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.

“The need of the hour is an Indo-Pacific where international law including UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] applies equally to all countries; where there is freedom of navigation and overflight; and where there is unimpeded lawful commerce for the benefit of all,” Modi said.

“India believes that the Code of Conduct should be effective for the South China Sea; be UNCLOS compliant; and in this, the interests of those countries which are not part of the discussions should also be kept in mind,” he said.

The East Asia Summit is the premier forum in the Asia-Pacific region to deal with issues relating to security and defence. Since its inception in 2005, it has played a significant role in the strategic, geopolitical and economic evolution of East Asia.

Apart from the ASEAN member states, the East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Russia.

“The current global scenario is surrounded by difficult circumstances and uncertainties. Terrorism, extremism, and geo-political conflicts are big challenges for all of us,” Mr. Modi said.

“To face these, multilateralism and rules-based international order are important. It is necessary to completely follow international laws. And everyone’s commitment and joint efforts are also necessary to strengthen the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries,” he said.

“As I have said before – today’s era is not of war. Dialogue and diplomacy is the only way to the solution,” Mr. Modi noted.

PM Modi wraps up Jakarta visit, leaves for home

PM Modi left for home after wrapping up a short but fruitful and productive visit to Indonesia to attend the ASEAN-India and East Asia summits.

The Prime Minister arrived in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, in the morning.

“PM @narendramodi concludes his visit to Indonesia, forging stronger partnerships with ASEAN and EAS partners,” the Ministry of External Affairs posted on X.

“Had a very short but fruitful Indonesia visit, where I met ASEAN and other leaders. I thank President @jokowi, the Indonesian Government and the people for their welcome,” Prime Minister Modi posted on X.

“The Prime Minister has just completed a very short but very productive visit to Jakarta to participate in the ASEAN-India Summit and the East Asia Summit,” Secretary (East) Saurabh Kumar said.

The Prime Minister’s participation in the summit will give India-ASEAN relations a strategic direction. The Prime Minister has comprehensive discussions, including in areas such as connectivity, maritime cooperation, digital transformation, trade and the economy, environment, health and traditional medicine, he said.

In each of these, the Prime Minister made specific proposals which have already been put out in the form of a 12-point proposal. Two joint statements were issued between India and ASEAN. These relate to maritime cooperation and food security, Mr. Kumar said.

In maritime cooperation, areas such as safety and security of maritime areas, maritime domain awareness, disaster management etc. have been covered. In the food security minute, millets find a prominent place. It provides food security as well as the environment, he said.

The opening of the embassy of India in Timor-Leste has also been announced by the Prime Minister. Timor-Leste is an observer in the ASEAN, Mr. Kumar said.

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