‘2+2 Dialogue’ or the joint bilateral meetings with the defence and foreign ministers of a highly close ally country has become a signature of Indian diplomacy. Today, India holds these dialogues only with the United States, Japan, Russia, and the recent entrant to it is Australia.
First India-Australia 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue
The first India-Australia 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue was held a couple of days back in New Delhi. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar met with their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Peter Dutton, respectively.
Indo-Pacific and the negative impact that China is having on the region, of course, was the point high at the talking table. However, the two countries did not restrict themselves only to it. India-Australia began exploring new areas in AI and unmanned vehicles. Also, India sought Australian investment in its fast-growing defence industry. The two countries are even looking forward to joint development and production of emerging defence technologies and mutual logistical support. Besides, economic security, cybersecurity, supply chains, etc., were the other issues that featured during the discussions.
Quad and Australia
The India-Australia 2+2 Dialogue is taking place while their navies are participating in the ‘Malabar 2021‘ exercise of the Quad countries in the Philippine Sea. Adding to China’s worries are the discussions in the Quad about making Australia a permanent invitee to future Malabar drills.
The New Delhi-Canberra cooperation not only poses a challenge before Chinese military bullying in the Indo-Pacific but also hinders Beijing’s trade blackmail plans. A pointer to this fact recently emerged when China imposed coercive tariffs after Australia demanded a probe into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. Later, Lowy Institute reported that Australian exports to China fell by A$11.7 billion annually but rose by A$13.4 billion to other markets. It is noteworthy that Quad partners of Australia, with India at the forefront, stepped up to support the Aussie economy when China began a trade war with them. With alternative markets, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s successfully hit Chinese economic intimidation.
The 2+2 Dialogue marks the official beginning of the ‘strategic partnership’ between India and Australia. Moreover, countries like Australia looking up to India in the midst of rising Chinese expansionism highlights India’s role in the global order as an emerging superpower.