A multilateral alternative, by Asia
Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level : Belt and Road Initiative
Mains level : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving
India and/or affecting India's interests
- After a gap of 200 years, Asian economies are again larger than the rest
of the world’s combined.
- As India and China resolve their border dispute, Asia is providing the
multilateral alternative to a world divided by values, and no longer by
- The phrase ‘Asian Century’ is said to have arisen in the 1988 meeting
between Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv
Gandhi, re-establishing relations after the India-China border conflict in
- It responds to the re-emergence of the two countries, leveraging size
and technological competence to shape a new order that reflects their
civilisational values which are distinct from those of the West.
- The travails of the West, for example, stagnating incomes of the middle
class and also climate change, confirm that the global division is now based
on values, as has been the case throughout civilisation.
- Even notions of a balance of power are a western construct, as the Asian
giants have by and large lived in peace across the ages.
- China, in 2013, after attaining 15% of global wealth, announced the
multilateral Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and in 2014, launched the Asian
Infrastructure Investment Bank, challenging the global governance paradigm.
- In 2015, emerging India established the International Solar Alliance,
laying out a distinct global sustainable development framework, and seeking
From U.S. perspective:
- The United States has recognised the ‘Asian Century’ bypassing
multilateralism; its direct dealings with China and India and the
Indo-Pacific construct are examples.
- The way the U.S. defined human rights solely in political and procedural
terms, withdrew from climate change after shifting the burden onto
developing countries and the forced inclusion of intellectual property
rights into the trade regime illustrate the colonial origins of current
multilateralism now being questioned by even its proponents and not just by
- The decisive shift responds both to the Asian growth engine and to Asian
- Global competition is moving away from country-specific actions to
fragmented competition, transformed by global value chains accounting for
three-quarters of the growth in global trade over the 20-year period:
- There is no provision in global trade rules for company-specific
concerns where the global digital economy rather than countries are
determinants of wealth and power.
- Imposing U.S.-determined national security standards on the world has
led to only a handful of countries agreeing to ban Huawei 5G technology,
- This has angered Europe over sanctions on companies building a gas
pipeline from Russia; sanctions on Iran have affected India’s interests,
impacting long-term relations and forcing a tacit choice between the two
- The BRI bilateral agreements optimise, not maximise, financial returns
with countries having an effective veto by remaining outside. Countries
support the BRI.\
- It covers the territories of 72 countries and 70% of the world
population as a network-based evolving process even with market-based
interest rates because of benefits of connectivity and integration into
- Half of future BRI funding is expected from multinational corporations
and multilateral banks, adding to their stake in solving difficulties.
Potential of BRI:
- The BRI provides a strategic framework for new global institution
building as its scope is as wide as multilateral treaties.
- The state-owned enterprises in infrastructure sectors in the BRI, with
backing from national banks, are contributing to internationalisation of the
Renminbi, enhancing China’s role in global economic governance.
- As the world leader in digital transactions China is developing block
chain-based financial infrastructure in BRI countries and exploring an
international block-chain currency for digital settlements without relying
on the dollar, thus reducing U.S. leverage.
- With the speed and scale of such change, rising Asia remains wary of
China and is eager, as is China, that India joins the Regional Comprehensive
Economic Partnership, poised to become the world’s largest trading bloc
because of the huge Indian market.
- With the U.S. military ‘pivot to Asia’, China is keen to resolve the
border dispute with India to avoid constraints.
- The recent India-China Summit on boundary issues resolved to work out a
“framework on a roadmap to a final solution on border issues”;
- India has rejected American opposition to Huawei taking part in 5G
- The Indian government has allowed all applicants, including Huawei
Technologies Co. Ltd, to participate.
- The contours of the new order should not be seen through a western
- In 2018, China was the largest supplier of goods to the U.S.; it has
also been India’s major trading partner.
- Every big state has bilateral relations with all three, and they take
part in limited sectoral cooperation on a regional basis. \
- Even faraway NATO has recently discussed the implications of the rise of
China; China, like India, is not part of any collective security system.
- Both the U.S. and China have regular high-level discussions on strategic
issues with India, recognising its demographic, technological and resource
potential to be part of a future global triumvirate.
What are the implications of this state of flux?
- Asia formed two-thirds of world GDP, and colonialism, not stagnation,
led to a decline of the Asian giants.
- Their re-emergence is not part of a global transformation of
- The border problem, too, is a remnant of colonialism and not the result
- The U.S., China and India will retain their civilisational models into
the future. In Asia, differences will centre on overlapping priorities —
security (the U.S.’s efforts to maintain hegemony), economic (China’s
emphasis on connectivity, markets and growth) and equitable sustainable
development (India-led framework of digital infrastructure designed as a
- By 2030, there is every possibility of a triumvirate
- Asia, and Africa, former colonies with conditions closer to India than
to China, are waiting for late-comer India, a civilisational state like
China, to lay out its vision of a digital, cooperative, sustainable
multilateral strategic framework to complement the frameworks of the other
- Early concrete moves for their simultaneous rise are in the global
Q.1) Consider the following statements:
1. Recently the Supreme Court has held that state can regulate minority
2. Article 25 grants all minorities shall have the right to establish and
administer educational institutions of their choice.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.1) The contours of the new order, with India and China as key players, should
not be seen through a western prism. Elucidate the statement.