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Friday, April 20, 2007

Friends with All, Enemy of None

Michael Richardson, a South East Asian security specialist, writes about India's manoeuver to please all powers in Asia.

This month five Indian navy ships had six days of manoeuvres with the US navy off Okinawa in southern Japan. The Indian flotilla is on a two-month deployment to East Asian waters. By the time it ends on May 23, India will have exercised with Singapore, Japan, China, Russia, the Philippines, Vietnam and New Zealand as well as the US.

For the first time, the navies of India, Japan and the US will team up for training. The trilateral exercise is taking place this week off Japan.

Some analysts have suggested this is a sign of a new power balance emerging in Asia in which the old strongman, the US, is enlisting the support of Japan and India to counter the rise of China in league with Russia.

But India has been careful to ensure its naval foray into the Pacific cannot be misconstrued by Beijing. On the same day several of its ships train with the Japanese and US navies, other vessels from the same flotilla will exercise with China off the Chinese coast.

Then, to reinforce New Delhi's message of friends with all and enemies to none, the Indian ships will come together again before heading to Vladivostok to exercise with the Russian navy.[China muscles up military]

The mangled coalition politics of pleasing everyone on display in India's geopolitical thought?