‘Indo-Pacific will become centre of the world’

October 26, 2021 12:00 am | Updated 06:51 am IST - Chennai

Every country has to adapt to a more powerful and assertive China: U.K.’s High Commissioner to India

R. RavindranR. Ravindran

R. RavindranR. Ravindran

Last week, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said India was “essential” in ensuring a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific. On Monday, British High CommissionerAlexander Elliselaborated on the U.K.’s interest in the region, and underlined India’s role as a trusted supplier in the global supply chain. Excerpts from the interview:

The port stop ofHMS Queen Elizabeth in Mumbai was termed the U.K.’s Indo-Pacific tilt in action. Could you elaborate on the need for ensuring an open Indo-Pacific?

The U.K. has significant interests in this part of the world. The Indo-Pacific will become ever more the centre of the world. That is why we have invested so much in the region in different ways. There are a few countries in the world that essentially determine the world’s climate. India is one of them, China is another — both in this region.

What is your response to the contention that multinational military activities in the Indo-Pacific are primarily aimed against China?

They are aimed for something, which is having an open and secure Indo-Pacific. And you are right to refer to the fact that the Carrier Strike Group itself has more than one country. It has a Dutch destroyer. It has some American marines. So, this is working with a lot of countries — some old friends, some new partners. And we have all realised that a lot more of the future of the world sits here.

Is it possible to isolate China, which the global supply chains are heavily dependent on?

It is about working for something — which is having an open and secure Indo-Pacific. And a lot of this has a brand trust, building relationships with trust with India and with other partners — Japan, Australia and with others in the region. With China, we will always have a mix. Sometimes we will cooperate in what we are trying to do on climate change. Sometimes we will compete, and occasionally we may have to contest.

This is not the Cold War. This is a different kind of world. But every country, I think, has to adapt to the consequences of both a powerful China and also a more assertive China. And we have had to adapt ourselves to this as well. And that is usually the result of Chinese behaviour. The facts change and we have to change with them.

But that is not just true for the U.K. India is going through exactly the same phenomena. So, we are always finding this blend of different approaches, according to the issue.

It requires an adaptation of our structures, which we’ve done in the U.K. And we’ve seen that over 5G, where, we’ve never ended at any one country. But you know, you have to have a degree of trust in your technology, suppliers, and avoid high-risk vendors. I will see terrific opportunities for India in that area as a trusted supplier, which is why I come back to where trust is so important between countries like the U.K. and India, because a lot flows from that trust.

What are the major issues which the COP in Glasgow hopes to achieve?

We have a good agreement of Paris and we have to take a further step down that path. One important thing about this COP is that it is about everyone’s contribution. India has an incredibly important role to play. I think that India’s scale obviously makes it a huge actor in this area. But one great advantage India has is [that] to an extent it has the solutions in its own hands.

Certain decisions were made by the British and Indian Governments, which affected travellers and businessmen of these countries. They are resolved now. Do you think everything is back to normal now?

There are still restraints on the number of flights between U.K. and India, which we want to change. The demand is enormous with people wanting to travel between the two countries, which is a good sign. We would like to have electronic visas available for tourists and for business people going from U.K. to India.

Full interview at https://bit.ly/3GdCiJU

We would like to have electronic visas available for tourists and business people going from U.K. to India.

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