Two countries—India and Australia—are well-placed both economically and strategically to play a leadership role in this future. They both have strong strategic and economic motivation to see peaceful cooperation and growth in their neighbourhood.
It’s a big neighbourhood—if you put a circle around India, China and Australia, you will find there are more people living within that circle than outside it. The region surrounding India and Australia will emerge as the key player, determining whether this future is a glorious dream or a nightmare—economic cooperation or trade wars, peace or border conflicts, cooperation or brute power, free speech or no speech, free democracies or powerful dictatorships. India and Australia now need to create something that is both tangible and symbolic, something that incorporates shared values and vision for the future of the Indo-Pacific Region.
The Prime Ministers of India and Australia spoke about it last week. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used Twitter this week to reinforce the important relationship with Australia: “Spoke with my good friend PM @ScottMorrisonMP today. Reiterated our commitment to consolidating our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Also discussed regional issues of common interest. Look forward to working together for peace, prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific.”
India has already taken some positive regional steps, using “vaccine diplomacy” to provide the vaccine to poor neighbours. In this way, it has shown how future leadership can grow from this pandemic.
Many countries are well-placed with the vaccine—the top countries by doses are the US, China, the UK, India, Israel, Brazil, the UAE, Turkey, Germany, Russia, France, and Australia will start vaccinations next week.