Power has changed hands, and how. From being a world a few decades ago where the two poles of power were the US and Russia, the world is now into an era where another cold war is commencing, this time between America and China. The difference between this silent war and the Cold War is that this time nations like India, Russia, Japan, to name a few, are playing a much greater role.
As China expands its presence in the South China Sea, many nations have become increasingly wary of its moves. This has led to Japan floating the idea of a maritime quadrilateral to counter China comprising of itself, the US, India, and Australia.
Now, another major power, France, seems ready to join India in increased cooperation to counter China. Last week, Paris and New Delhi announced their decision to increase military cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. The statement came during a two-day visit to India by French Defense Minister Florence Parly.
The two women defence ministers of both countries said that the naval collaboration between their countries in the Indian Ocean was part of a broader plan to expand bilateral defense ties.
India’s motivation in keeping the Chinese at bay is to maintain its superiority in the region while France wants to stand by the goal of keeping international waters free and secure. As the Asia-Pacific region turns into a center of global economic activity, it is in French interest to keep these waters intrusion free. French exports to South and East Asia were worth $61.4 billion in 2016, or 12.5% of the European country’s total.
India and France conduct the annual Varuna naval drills which were launched in 2001. The purpose was to improve the capacity to conduct joint operations by the navies of the two nations. The plan is to expand the information-sharing deals and the scope of Varuna naval drills. This could be regarded as significant before France President Macron’s trip to India in December.
India is strengthening naval cooperation with Japan. Recently, the Indian and Japanese navies wrapped up anti-submarine-warfare drills initiated. The US has shown considerable interest in boosting security collaboration with India. Australia too is keen to enhance security and defense ties with India.
Only question that now remains is whether this stand of France to expand naval ties is a sincere effort on its part or simply cloaked in its own interest in expanding arms sales to India whose capacity to spend on its armed forces is rising rapidly.