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Multilateralism in new cold war
What has happened:
USA and China clash during World health assembly in WHO(World Health Organization) has highlighted how west and US led global order is changing. China is using technology, trade to balance the military superiority of the USA. COVID 19 has accelerated this clash by lowering trust in values central to the west like free markets.
Let us understand this US- China rivalry which is the new cold war based on Trade and technology rather than territory as well as India’s role in such an uncertain world.
US – China rivalry: The new cold war:
Technological rivalry: China is investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence, Quantum computing, space, Electronics and robotics, space etc which are emerging advanced technologies. It aims for excellence in these technologies under the Made in China-2025 plan.
US has had an edge in these technologies but is facing competition from China. In response, steps such as banning Huawei for 5G deployment; restricting Chinese share in strategically important companies dealing with defense, are being taken to protect US lead.
Chinese endorsement for UN resolution on equitable access to any new vaccine has shown how technological domination of the west through Intellectual Property Rights- IPR, is being challenged. This technological dependence is core of post world war West led multilateralism
Trade rivalry: US – China trade war which is going on since 2018 shows an increasing clash on this front. Although some progress is seen with limited deals, due to COVID induced trade protectionism, further competition is expected.
Strategic rivalry: WHO downplaying US threats and subsequent US withdrawal show changing geopolitical power.
China is building alternatives to WB, IMF, WTO through Belt and road initiative, AIIB, BRICS, regional deals like RCEP.- Regional comprehensive economic partnership.
India’s role in promoting benign multilateralism:
US, ASEAN countries, Indo-Pacific countries see India as such a counterweight to China. China wants India to support its efforts for global rebalancing.
In such a clash for global leadership and a power vacuum due to a shift of power, India can pursue an independent non coercive multilateralism. India can bring both BRICS and G7 together and formulate objectives which are acceptable to most countries.
India can lay down new frameworks for global economy, society, technology, governance. By doing this India can be a global thought leader contributing to progress of world like it did with Nalanda, Zero, Ayurveda, Buddhism etc
Outcomes to be pursued by India to promote benign multilateralism:
- Peaceful coexistence: For realizing Asian century it is crucial. Freezing sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs should be agreed to by all. US interventions in Afghanistan, West Asia, Africa show how interference is counter productive. Countering expansionism, India can provide an alternative vision of a multipolar world with multipolar asia with coexistence.
- New P5(Permanent 5) of UNSCthat is not based on G7 but new realities of the world to be established.
- Moulding global digital economy: National security will depend on digital technologies like cyber security, Artificial intelligence(AI) etc. India must enhance its own capabilities and set the rules for global framework by balancing state led(China) – market led(USA) mechanisms through a public centric model
- New principles of tradewhich prevent IPR monopolies and ensure public goods (Healthcare, agriculture, water, Renewable energy etc) are shared in a fair and humane manner, should be formulated. Further trade rules which promote socio economic development as promised in DOHA agenda of WTO need to be pursued
- Sustainable developmentto be pursued based on ancient civilizational values of Asian countries. Restructuring of society and economy must be done based on these values. This promotes alternatives to materialism and excessive exploitation which are prevalent due to unchecked market liberalism. Gandhiji’s vision of need based rather than greed based world economy is an example. One sun, One world, One grid as well as leadership of International solar alliance by India is a good template of such multilateral cooperation
- Promoting regional multilateralism: Ties with regional institutions like ASEAN, SAARC, BIMSTEC, EU need to be enhanced to bring out this vision of non coercive multilateralism. Such multilateralism will counter unilateralism as seen with both the US and China.
Avenues for India to influence the agenda of global world in coming years:
India will be involved in global institutions as:
- Chair of executive board of WHO’s World Health Assembly
- In 2021, India will become UN Security council’s non permanent member
- BRICS chairmanship in 2021 will be with India
- G20 summit of 2022 will be hosted by India
In the recent NAM(Non Aligned movement) summit, India called for a new model of globalization based on HUMANITY, FAIRNESS and EQUALITY. This is sought by many countries and India must have bold vision and political will to achieve this vision.
- Discuss the role of India in promoting global governance in the global world marked by US – China rivalry? [15 marks, 250 words]