On Monday (August 9), former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott emphasised how India can become the democratic superpower that can substitute the ‘belligerent China.’
In an article in The Australian, he remarked, “With the world’s other emerging superpower becoming more belligerent almost by the day, it’s in everyone’s interests that India take its rightful place among the nations as quickly as possible.” Abbott pointed out the significance of a ‘swift deal’ between India and Australia and how it can bring prosperity for both nations. He added that such a deal can be a signal to other democratic countries to ’tilt away from China’.
Tony Abbott conceded that his assumptions about China in 2014 turned out to be wrong and that it had been using trade as a ‘strategic weapon.’ He believed that inviting China into global trading networks would eventually lead to its political liberalisation. “…But the current capricious boycotts of Australian coal, barley, wine, and seafood show that, for the Beijing regime, trade is used as a strategic weapon,” he emphasised.
The ex-Australian Prime Minister lamented how China took advantage of the ‘goodwill and wishful thinking’ of Western nations to steal their technology and undermine their industries. He conceded that the Communist nation has become more powerful than the erstwhile Soviet Union. He added, “The pandemic has put up in flashing neon lights the extent to which the world has become dependent on Chinese imports, including in critical supply chains, that can be turned on and off like a tap. But the answer to almost every question about China is India.”
“Although currently not as rich as China, as a democracy under the rule of law, and as the world’s second-largest producer of steel and pharmaceuticals, and with its own version of Silicon Valley, India is perfectly placed to substitute for China in global supply chains, Abbott concluded. He then went on to highlight the ‘natural partnership’ between the two nations. He pointed out, “Unlike others with India, we don’t have to live down a fraught history.”
He stated, “Our challenge is to overcome India’s traditional protectionism, and the tendency to see trade talks as a zero-sum game, in order to seal a deal that will make the world safer for democracy.” Abbott conceded that if the Australian businesses and officials made the same bilateral effort with India that they once made with China, then it could have helped establish a ‘family’ relationship.
Tony Abbott praises PM Modi for improving bilateral ties with Australia
The ex-Australian Prime Minister remarked, “India and Australia are like-minded democracies whose relationship had been under-developed, at least until Narendra Modi became India’s Prime Minister. Under Modi, India has revived the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, and the first in-person Quad summit is expected before the end of the year. Under Modi, India has invited Australia to join the annual Malabar naval exercises that will soon involve India, the US, Japan, Australia and also the UK’s visiting carrier strike group led by the Royal Navy’s new flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth.”
He added, “Australia could readily replace China as a key source of the rare earths and other strategic minerals that India will need, under PM Modi’s “Make in India” program, if it’s to replace China as a source of manufactured inputs at scale. With a spectacular infrastructure program now underway, as well as sweeping privatisation, India should be a place for Australian investment funds to secure long-term stable returns.”
Abbott was the Australian PM from 2013 to 2015.