Japanese PM Kishida’s visit to India, Chinese president Xi’s trip to Moscow, and the rearrangement of great power and regional politics

Source– The post is based on the article “Japanese PM Kishida’s visit to India, Chinese president Xi’s trip to Moscow, and the rearrangement of great power and regional politics” published in “The Indian Express” on 22nd March 2023. 

Syllabus: GS2- International relations 

Relevance– Major changes in world order and implications for India 

News– Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is visiting India with ambition to elevate the Indo-Pacific partnership with India. Chinese President Xi Jinping is also visiting Moscow this week to consolidate the Eurasian alliance with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin.  

What are the major changes happening in international politics? 

A recalibration of relations among major middle powers is happening. Recently, there was a thaw in the relations of Iran and Saudi Arabia at a ceremony in Beijing. 

The first summit in nearly twelve years between the leaders of South Korea and Japan was organised. 

The Saudi-Iran entente is a diplomatic triumph for Beijing and a setback for Washington. But Seoul and Tokyo coming together is a major diplomatic win for the US and a big loss for China.  

The US has made other gains on China’s periphery. It has managed to win the confidence of the new Philippines president Bongbong Marcos. The Philippines is an old treaty ally of the US that was drifting towards China under Marcos’s immediate predecessor. 

Agreement between Germany and Japan to coordinate their policies on Russia and reduce their excessive dependence on China-centred supply chains is also a major development.  

What are the reasons for realignment of international relations? 

The realignment underway is part of the emerging post-post-Cold War world. The rules governing the world that emerged at the end of the Cold War during 1989-91 have been under stress for a while now.  

The Russian aggression against Ukraine and the deepening conflict over Taiwan have accelerated the breakdown. The conflict envelops the economic and technological domains as well. 

The sharpening contradictions between Russia-China axis and the West have given regional powers some room for bargaining with both sides.  

What are different perspectives to look at realignment of the relationships among middle powers? 

Some trends of rearrangement of great power and regional politics are sustainable, and others are short-term adjustments. 

In the Middle East, the Saudi-Iran rapprochement could be seen as either tactical or strategic. There exist deep contradictions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudis will find it hard to break up their hundred-year-old partnership with the western powers.   

But the effort to limit the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia is not an exception in the Middle East. The conflict between UAE and Saudi Arabia on the one hand and Qatar on the other was resolved in 2021. Turkey is now trying to end the political rift with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. 

Turkey and Iran face deepening domestic crises and scaling down their foreign policy adventurism of recent decades. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are not so sure about Biden’s policies. 

The changes that are happening may not be sustained in the longer term. In the case of South Korea, it is not clear if the current bold policies of the President will be sustained by the next president. South Korea’s deep economic relationship with China cannot be overturned in the immediate future. 

What are different ways of looking at the long-term concern for Delhi towards Putin’s growing dependence on Xi? 

One view is that a weakened Russia will inevitably become a junior partner to China. It will make Moscow a less reliable partner for Delhi in balancing Beijing. 

A second position argues that Russia-India relations are essentially immune to change. Russia will always be an independent great power. Moscow can keep the ties with Beijing and Delhi on separate tracks despite the growing Sino-Indian contradictions. 

A third view is less hopeful about the future of the Sino-Russian partnership. There is a need to prepare for the worst possible outcomes for India in relation to China. India will need stronger strategic ties with the US, Europe and Japan. 

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