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The fear of China has put the global spotlight on India ⁠⁠— its raked up three Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships in the last 24 months

The fear of China has put the global spotlight on India ⁠⁠— its raked up three Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships in the last 24 months
  • India has elevated its bilateral ties with Indonesia, the US, and most recently, with Australia to the level of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in the past 24 months.
  • The anti-China sentiment has pushed India into the spotlight especially with the its border dispute along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India.
  • Here's everything you need to know about India's 'Comprehensive Strategic' partners.
China’s skirmishes with India along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), its growing influence in South China Sea, and the Strait of Taiwan have pushed India into the spotlight — intentionally or unintentionally.

The anti-China sentiment has been growing and shows no signs of slowing down with India and Australia upgrading their bilateral ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The ‘informal’ Quadrilateral Alliance (QUAD) between Australia, India, Japan and the US could be on the brink of turning into something more official — with India at the helm.

“Concerned to preserve the existing liberal rules-based order, the Quad states have already responded by increasing their cooperation,” said Lavina Lee, Senior Lecturer with the Lowy Institute.

Over the past 24 months, the US, Indonesia and Australia are the newest ‘Comprehensive Strategic’ partners to pair up with India. Other countries like Vietnam, the UAE and Japan have been reaffirming their Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships with India. It also reflects India’s growing ties with Southeast Asia under New Delhi’s Act East Policy.

What is a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership?
A comprehensive strategic partnership is a formal designation given to the level of bilateral ties between India and another country. “All countries are important to India, but not all countries are equally important. There are gradations. When interests pull them together you start putting more meat on the relationship,” former ambassador and a distinguished fellow with Mumbai-based think tank Gateway House, RajivBhatia explained.

A Comprehensive Strategic Partnership means it can cover all possible aspects of bilateral interactions and there will be a special focus on defence and security matters. One example of how a relationship can be elevated is regular 2+2 ministerial-level consultations.

Here’s a list of countries that have entered into Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships with India over the last 24 months:

In May 2018, India and Indonesia upgraded their ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership after a bilateral summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesia President Joko Widodo.

In May 2018, India and Indonesia upgraded their ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership after a bilateral summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesia President Joko Widodo.
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The two sides signed 15 new agreements, including the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA).

The two sides signed 15 new agreements, including the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA).
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“Both leaders reaffirmed that Indonesia and India as strategic partners and maritime neighbours must work to further strengthen and broaden the already robust defence cooperation,” said the joint statement from Modi’s visit to Indonesia.

“Both leaders reaffirmed that Indonesia and India as strategic partners and maritime neighbours must work to further strengthen and broaden the already robust defence cooperation,” said the joint statement from Modi’s visit to Indonesia.
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As recently as January this year, Indonesia and China were caught in a dispute over the Natuna Islands when a Chinese boat trespassed into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone off the northern islands of Natuna.

As recently as January this year, Indonesia and China were caught in a dispute over the Natuna Islands when a Chinese boat trespassed into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone off the northern islands of Natuna.
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In February 2020, the US and India also joined hands to form a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during US President Donald Trump’s visit to India.

In February 2020, the US and India also joined hands to form a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during US President Donald Trump’s visit to India.
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“Prime Minister Modi and President Trump vowed to strengthen the India-U.S. Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, anchored in mutual trust, shared interests, goodwill and robust engagement of their citizens,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

“Prime Minister Modi and President Trump vowed to strengthen the India-U.S. Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, anchored in mutual trust, shared interests, goodwill and robust engagement of their citizens,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
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Modi and Trump also decided to strengthen consultation through India-US-Japan trilateral summits, since Japan is already a Comprehensive Economic partner with India.

Modi and Trump also decided to strengthen consultation through India-US-Japan trilateral summits, since Japan is already a Comprehensive Economic partner with India.
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“India and the United States took note of efforts towards a meaningful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and solemnly urged that it not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of all nations according to international law,” said the MEA.

“India and the United States took note of efforts towards a meaningful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and solemnly urged that it not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of all nations according to international law,” said the MEA.
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US and China are said to be ‘on the brink of a Cold War’ as issues between the two range from trade wars to humanitarian rights — and more recently the designation of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

US and China are said to be ‘on the brink of a Cold War’ as issues between the two range from trade wars to humanitarian rights — and more recently the designation of Hong Kong and Taiwan.
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The most recent addition to India’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships is Australia. The two countries upgraded their relationship during the first virtual summit between the two countries on June 4.

The most recent addition to India’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships is Australia. The two countries upgraded their relationship during the first virtual summit between the two countries on June 4.
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Australia and India have been growing close with Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrisson holding more bilateral talks over the past 18 months. Like the US, Australia also vowed for a more ‘ruled based’ Indo-Pacific region.

Australia and India have been growing close with Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrisson holding more bilateral talks over the past 18 months. Like the US, Australia also vowed for a more ‘ruled based’ Indo-Pacific region.
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Australia has significant interests in the South China Sea — economically and geopolitically. Australia has been conducting its own airborne surveillance operations called Operation Gateway since 1980 — some of which have been verbally challenged by China.

Australia has significant interests in the South China Sea — economically and geopolitically. Australia has been conducting its own airborne surveillance operations called Operation Gateway since 1980 — some of which have been verbally challenged by China.
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“Everything is a part of the large geopolitical landscape ranging from the India-China border issue to Taiwan, to Hong Kong, to the South China Sea,” former ambassador and a distinguished fellow with Mumbai-based thinktank Gateway House told Business Insider.

“Everything is a part of the large geopolitical landscape ranging from the India-China border issue to Taiwan, to Hong Kong, to the South China Sea,” former ambassador and a distinguished fellow with Mumbai-based thinktank Gateway House told Business Insider.
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“They [Australia] have their own issues with China. We have our own issues with China. Each country has to deal and address them. At the same time, the commonality of interests between the two countries are pulling them closer together — that is the single most important message that comes out from this,” he added.

“They [Australia] have their own issues with China. We have our own issues with China. Each country has to deal and address them. At the same time, the commonality of interests between the two countries are pulling them closer together — that is the single most important message that comes out from this,” he added.
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India already has maritime cooperation agreements in place with Indonesia, Japan and the US when it comes to the Indo-Pacific. “You can see that Australia was slightly outside this arc, now it has been brought into this special club,” said Bhatia.

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The Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement (MLSA) between Australia and India, will allow both countries to use each other’s military bases.

The Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement (MLSA) between Australia and India, will allow both countries to use each other’s military bases.
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“What isn’t mentioned here, but may have agreed upon and will come out slowly, is the Malabar Naval Exercises. So far, there were only three countries who participated — the US, India and Japan. Now Australia may also be invited to this,” said Bhatia.

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In the past 24 months, Vietnam and India also strengthened their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership when President Ram Nath Kovind visited the Southeast Asian nation.

In the past 24 months, Vietnam and India also strengthened their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership when President Ram Nath Kovind visited the Southeast Asian nation.
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During the visit, the two sides discussed the South China Sea issue, and progress on the implementation of a $100 million credit package to support Vietnam’s border forces in building high-speed patrol boats.

During the visit,  the two sides discussed the South China Sea issue, and progress on the implementation of a $100 million credit package to support Vietnam’s border forces in building high-speed patrol boats.
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Both, the Parcel Islands and the Spratly Islands, are contested territory between Vietnam, Taiwan and China.

Both, the Parcel Islands and the Spratly Islands, are contested territory between Vietnam, Taiwan and China.
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