Modi gets a Bastille Day red carpet, but China can rain on the geostrategic parade

India pledged to counterbalance China in the Indo-Pacific region, and French President Emmanuel Macron invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the guest of honor for the July 14 Bastille Day military parade. But does India have the will and the means to make it happen?

>> Click here for Bastille Day Diplomacy (1): The military parade when Macron received Modi on July 14 is a weapon, not a human right

Less than a year ago, French President Emmanuel Macron took a blunt slam at the United Nations General Assembly against countries that had been on the sidelines of the Ukraine war, accusing them of being “complicit” in Russia’s “new imperialism”.

“Those who remain silent today are serving the cause of the new imperialism – whether against their will or with tacit complicity,” Macron said. “It is not a question of choosing a side between East and West, North or South. It is a question of responsibility to the Charter of the United Nations,” he added.

The Ukraine war has exposed a rift between the West and some Asian and African countries that see themselves as part of the “global south”. While the West has sharply condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, some countries in the Global South have taken a deliberately neutral stance.

read moreUkraine war exposes global North-South divide

The list of speakers for the 2022 UN General Assembly includes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose country Condemned the invasion five times at the United Nations, including a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution calling for an independent investigation into Russian abuses in Ukraine.

Macron did mention Modi in his speech. But this is not to punish Indian leader New Delhi for its neutrality in the Ukraine war, or to increase imports of cheap Russian oil under price caps imposed by global sanctions. Instead, the French leader praised the Indian president for telling Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit in Uzbekistan that “this time is not a time for war”.

Macron’s fondness for Modi will be on full display on Friday, when India’s prime minister will be the guest of honor at the Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14. The traditional military march on the Champs Elysees——Avenue Elysee An unconventional ‘special dinner’ will be held for the visiting Indian PM to follow The magnificent Louvre, the most visited museum in the world.

Despite India’s failure to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Macron has proven more than willing to forgive Modi, whom he often refers to as “my friend”.

It is a friendship rooted in deep economic and geostrategic interests. The red carpet treatment at the Bastille Day celebrations was a nod to the link between Paris and New Delhi.

Defense agreements and bilateral trade have strengthened ties between the two countries, with major arms purchases and record commercial aviation contracts grabbing international headlines.

India and France, also historically committed to a multipolar world order, have traditionally balanced their relationship with Washington and Moscow. The rise of China and its expanding ambitions in the Indo-Pacific, a strategic region for both countries, has also seen a convergence of geopolitical interests between Paris and New Delhi.

But as Macron’s “for us or against us” speech at the United Nations showed, India and France have different interests in a world increasingly polarized by the war in Ukraine. Beyond official communiqués and joint statements, these fundamental differences are raising questions in the international policy community.

friends through thick and thin

Modi invited to participate in the National Day military parade on the 25ththe th anniversary France-India Strategic Partnershiptook note of the joint statement on the Elysee Presidential Palace website.

The Franco-Indian strategic partnership is not a household term in either country but is a regular feature in bilateral communiqués.

Launched in 1998, the partnership has its roots in the view, widely held in New Delhi circles, that Francethick and thin“.

A quarter of a century ago, India suffered US sanctions Conducted nuclear tests in the Bokran desert region to the west. They led India’s arch-rival Pakistan in a similar test, raising concerns of nuclear escalation in South Asia.

A file photo released by the Indian government in May 1998 shows the site of an underground nuclear test in the Pokran region of western India.
A file photo released by the Indian government in May 1998 shows the site of an underground nuclear test in the Pokran region of western India. AFP

France, which pursues a foreign policy independent of the United States and is eager to sign a civilian nuclear deal with India, has not condemned the Bockland nuclear test. Paris also took the opportunity to strengthen defense and security ties with New Delhi, a move that still resonates with the Indian foreign policy establishment to this day.

“France’s image in India is quite positive, partly because of its status [former French president] “Jacques Chirac took over the 1998 nuclear test,” explained Jean-Luc Racine, senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and senior researcher at the Asia Centre. “France The overall image of the US that has not fully followed in the past has had some resonance in India.”

“Stick to America” ​​Multipolarity

India and France have long called for a multipolar world order, a discourse that has often been read more as a statement of intent than a workable plan of action during a crisis that calls for great power or superpower power.

The roots of multipolar discourse run deep in both countries, dating back to the postwar era.

India, under its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), a movement largely made up of post-colonial nations that refused to formally align themselves with the United States or the Soviet Union. Since the end of the Cold War, the Non-Aligned Movement has struggled to gain relevance, consistently criticizing US foreign policy while granting Russia observer status in 2021.

France’s multipolar goals, on the other hand, stemmed from the loss of its colonial empire under Charles de Gaulle’s presidency, when Paris decided it would not follow the example of Britain and become what it considered a vassal state of the United States. But that status has been difficult to maintain, leading to occasional conflicts, such as de Gaulle’s temporary resignation from NATO command, only to return to the camp of the Western military alliance.

While France and India remain committed to multipolarity, the war in Ukraine is challenging some of the unspoken fundamental requirements of a strategic partnership.

‘India fears China’

While China is rarely mentioned in official statements, Beijing is at the center of the intersection of Paris and New Delhi, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, where the two countries have conducted naval exercises since the 1990s.

Both countries fear Chinese expansionism. France owns overseas territories, where 93% of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) lies, and it sees the Indo-Pacific region as a “priority” region. The Indo-Pacific region is also home to 1.5 million French nationals, as well as 8,000 soldiers stationed in the region, according to the French foreign ministry. Sea lanes, including trade routes, are a critical consideration for France, as are the EU and the US.

New Delhi’s concerns are more domestic and the stakes are higher. India shares a disputed 2,500km border with China and has been plagued by its defeat in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. Deadly border skirmishes break out between the two countries on a regular basis, and India is acutely aware of China’s military superiority.

New Delhi has historically looked to Moscow to contain Beijing’s expansionism in its Asian backyard. But the incursion into Ukraine has made an increasingly sanctioned and marginalized Russia dependent on China — to India’s detriment.

“The Americans and the French are betting on India as a counterbalance to China. However, nothing is more certain,” he said. Christophe Jaffrelot, CERI-Sciences Po and CNRS Senior Researcher, In a recent interview with France 24 channel, he added: “India is vulnerable on multiple levels and is therefore afraid of China and is not even ready to oppose China.”

For France, betting on India is a “short-term calculation” that “has its limits”, Jaffrelot said in a column for French daily Le Monde. “India is anxious not to alienate China and does not rule out cooperating with China – as it has done within the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) expressly to counter Western domination,” he wrote road.

India’s bets are mixed

Under the Modi regime, India has also pursued a transactional foreign policy based on self-interest, raising questions about its intentions in Western capitals, even as they are courting Indian defense and trade contracts.

Shortly before Modi arrived in the US for a state visit last month, an article in the prestigious journal, Foreign affairs, By: Ashley J. Thales, A senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former adviser to the US State Department, he has caused a sensation in the international policy community.

In his works, “America’s wrong bet on India“, Thales points out, tThe Biden administration “ignored India’s democratic erosion and its unhelpful foreign policy choices” and hoped that the United States could “solicit” New Delhi’s “contribution to coalition defense.”

Thales said those expectations were misplaced. India”He warned that “the United States does not hold any inherent allegiance to the maintenance of the liberal international order and maintains an abiding aversion to engaging in common defense”.

The United States, as the global superpower that shoulders the burden in times of crisis, seeks defensive alliances, while France, as a middle power and NATO member, is less hindered in following its military and economic interests.

As India’s arms manufacturing capabilities lag behind China’s, New Delhi has become the biggest buyer in the international arms market — a boon for France. India is the world’s largest arms importer, and France has long been India’s second-biggest arms supplier, after Russia. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

During Modi’s recent visit to France, India is expected to sign a naval fighter deal worth nearly 3 billion euros with France According to reports, during Modi’s visit news report. Paris-based engine maker Safran and Indian defense public sector company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd may also set up a joint venture to produce engines for locally built helicopters during the visit.

Over the past few years, the Franco-Indian friendship has produced headline deals that are popular with domestic audiences in both countries. So while Macron has expressed displeasure with countries that have remained neutral on the Ukraine war, he has not committed to downgrading it to a hug as major deals are signed.

Leave a Comment