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Prime Ministers Modi and Morrison have twice in recent months postponed meeting in person to re-explore the bilateral relationship and attempt to take it forward. That attempt was taken at a virtual meeting between them on 4 June, drawing in firstly, the values of democracy and secondly, their shared support for the region’s rules-based maritime order. The latter point has emerged as their intention to build an open, stable, rules-based post COVID-19 world. Both intentions delineate their differences from China. Each country is now experiencing the economic weaponry that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can bring to bear on different aspects of their engagement with it.

Can the mutual aim, to disengage to some extent from China, take the on-again, off-again Indo-Australian bilateral relationship to a point where yet another newly comprehensive elevation of earlier strategic partnerships may enable institutional, political, defence and security undertakings to reach solid ground? Or will commitments to other states combined with different domestic policies again raise the bar?

Key points:

  • Prime Ministers Morrison and Modi twice postponed meetings in New Delhi in early 2020.
  • The two leaders need to decide if China has become just a shared problem or if it might constitute the basis of a re-set bilateral relationship.
  • The two countries recognise, however, the need for co-operation to overcome regional challenges.
  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and two of his Ministers, Christopher Pyne and Marise Payne have, accordingly, consolidated Australia’s direction.
  • The relationship could be affected, however, by the goals of the Quad grouping and India’s growing Hindu nationalism.
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