Published : Monday, 03 November, 2014 04:02 PM
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Perceived Impact of PM’s Visit to Fiji
Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi would be the first Prime Minister to visit Fiji islands in three decades after the last visit of Indian PMin 1981 visited the Pacific Island nation. PM will visit Fiji after attending the G-20 Summit in Australia. Though political analyst feel that it is the part of strategy to visit the countries having substantial Indian diasporas, some argue that the hidden motive behind the visit is to counter the China because Chinese premier who would be also participate in G-20 summit will also visit Fiji after attending the summit later this month.
Both China and India, world’s most populous and second most populous nations, have their global aspirations but our northern neighbour views India as an obstacle to its aspirations. In order to counter India and make India involved with its neighbours only, China has been doing its bit to make the issues between India and its neighbours remain unresolved. China itself doesn’t seem keen to resolve the boundary issue with India.
As part of its policy of encircling India, China is developing important infrastructure projects and developing of mega ports in the countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran and Bangladesh. It will enhance the position of China in Indian Ocean which is crucial for Indian security.
In order to counter the Chinese policy of containing India with its neighbours, India started Look East Policy to reach out to the countries beyond its adjacent neighbours. In pursuance to this policy, India established good relations with the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN). The latest visit by the Indian PM seems to be an extension of that policy where India is now looking to reach out to Far East in pacific islands.
India has another interest in Fiji Islands where Indian Diaspora accounts for one third of the total population. This factor will also help in enhancing India’s ties with the pacific island nations. Currently, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union have placed the sanctions over Fiji owing to the military coup. For Fiji, isolated by its big neighbours, the enhanced ties with India and China will help it immensely in economic, political as well as diplomatic terms.
For China, Pacific is one of the regions where it has yet to make its dominance. Due to the presence of large Indian Diaspora there, India already has an edge. With Indian PM visiting to Fiji to give new height to Indo-Fijian ties, China too cannot afford to lag behind and will also make an official visit to the Island nation soon after the G20 summit in Australia. Thus China will not view the visit by Indian PM to Fiji as an attack on its interest but just the fulfilment of Indian interests.
However, it is also true that China cannot remain behind in winning strategic allies across the globe and will make its presence felt in every region across the globe. As India already have people of Indian origin in Fiji, China would have to invest immensely in infrastructure projects in Fiji to counter the Indian advantage as it is doing with Indian neighbours.
Importantly, pacific island region is far more important for Australia and New Zealand than India and China just like as South China Sea is of strategic importance for China and Indian Ocean for India. Therefore, both India and China should not be much wary of each other’s ambitions in Pacific Islands region as this region is more critical to the interests to Australia and New Zealand. Yet winning allies from the regions which remain neglected so far will definitely help India and China who are willing to become a superpower in long term.