Two global superpowers – India and France are joining hands to man one of the most strategically and economically important oil routes of the world from the clutches of the Chinese dragon. According to news reports, President Emmanuel Macron led France has invited India to join the European Union (EU) naval operations in the Persian Gulf.
“EU has operations and China is also developing influence in the region. India is invited to join us in this monitoring mission by bringing capacities. This will be an occasion to demonstrate convergence and the capacity to operate together,” said Emmanuel Bonne, Diplomatic Adviser to Emmanuel Macron.
Bonne’s statement of affirmation on Thursday came after the third round of strategic dialogue with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. The NSA has been rather proactive lately to forge alliances that can corner China on the global map.
Although the EU has signed a controversial trade deal with China, which makes it harder for India to trust the EU. But France’s stance on China is clear as chalk and cheese and New Delhi is expected to accept the invitation as Paris wants Beijing to adhere to a common framework, accept certain changes in rules and be less aggressive – something which India wants as well.
The Middle East is critical for Beijing as 60 per cent of an energy-dependent China’s oil needs are fuelled through this part of the world. Put bluntly, the strategic passage from the Persian Gulf to the Strait of Malacca is “a matter of life and death” for China. And if India or France manage to chokehold Beijing in the region, it could be forced to give up on its regressive approach and the abhorrent wolf warrior diplomacy.
China’s Persian Gulf strategy is based on building economic ties with all regional actors, regardless of existing rivalries. When it comes to the Gulf, the Chinese approach is mainly driven by Beijing’s voracious energy appetite and its ambitious expansion through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Macron has no love lost for China and it was evidently on display last year. When the clash between the Indian Armed forces and PLA occurred in the Galwan valley near the LAC in June, last year, it was Paris that came out with its unwavering support towards New Delhi. The European nation became the first country to offer India the support of its armed forces. Moreover, it was Macron that sped up the delivery of the Rafale jets so that India could be prepared for any eventuality.
Emmanuel Macron has become the tallest leader in Europe since he started taking on the menace of radical Islam. On the contentious issue of Islamic fundamentalism, India under PM Modi drew an even clearer line when it echoed the sentiments of France.
When Macron became the target of Pakistani PM Imran Khan and Turkish President Erdogan, to wage war against Islam, it was India that first stood up and showed its solidarity with the European nation. The Modi government of India gave its open support to France and promised to stand together in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.
Now, Macron has set his eyes on diminishing the might of Xi Jinping in the region. Both India and France have stood with each other through the tests of times and it looks like the two natural allies have found another common plank to further their growing bilateral ties.