BREAKING NEWS Ole Miss football pauses team activities until next week Full Story

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks out against protectionism

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that India is ready to help lead a free and fair Indo-Pacific in a landm...

Posted: Jun 1, 2018 3:22 PM
Updated: Jun 1, 2018 3:22 PM

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that India is ready to help lead a free and fair Indo-Pacific in a landmark speech Friday, issuing veiled critiques of the region's two biggest players: the United States and China.

In a speech that was short on specifics but big on ambition and lofty rhetoric, Modi hailed Asia as the future of the world economy, while stressing unity between the region's powers amid global economic uncertainty.

"(We must) recognize that each of us can serve our interests better when we work together as equals in the larger good of all nations," said Modi during his keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, an annual defense summit that draws security officials, academics and defense contractors from across the world.

Modi's address marks the first time an Indian politician has been invited to open the annual summit and comes just months after he delivered the opening speech at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting at Davos in January.

Like he did at Davos, Modi championed the idea of free trade and economic integration, just days after US President Donald Trump slapped steel tariffs on some of Washington's biggest economic partners. The move has sparked fears of a trade war.

"Solutions cannot be found behind walls of protection, but in embracing change," said Modi. "What we seek is a level playing field for all. India stands for open and stable international trade regime."

Underscoring his point, Modi argued that no nation can shape the world on its own. "It is a world that summons us to rise above divisions and competition to work together," said Modi.

"We believe that our common prosperity and security require us to evolve, through dialogue, a common rules-based order for the region. And, it must equally apply to all individually as well as to the global commons," he said.

Delicate balancing act

Modi is spending three days in the city-state following visits to Malaysia and Indonesia, a trip that analysts say is part of an effort to shore up ties with India's neighbors as China seeks to expand its influence through its trillion dollar Belt and Road initiative.

"India shares geostrategic interests with the Southeast Asian countries," said Bharat Karnad, a national security expert at the Center for Policy Research, a New Delhi-based think tank.

"He's firming up India's security relationships without conspicuously targeting China," said Karnard.

China's Belt and Road project is meant to economically link much of Asia, but some -- including many in New Delhi -- believe Beijing is using the investments to expand its soft power and influence across the continent.

Despite India's concerns regarding China's motives when it comes to Belt and Road, relations between the world's two most populous countries have strengthened in recent weeks after a tumultuous 2017 in which Beijing and New Delhi locked horns over a border dispute in the Himalayas.

Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in April for an informal two-day relationship-building summit in the Chinese city of Wuhan, an event widely interpreted as a diplomatic reset. Photographs of the two leaders showed them largely at ease, walking through the woods, drinking tea and enjoying a boat ride together.

"India-China cooperation is expanding. Trade is growing. And, we have displayed maturity and wisdom in managing issues and ensuring a peaceful border," Modi said in his speech.

"I firmly believe that, Asia and the world will have a better future when India and China work together in trust and confidence."

Despite the praise for its neighbor, India has long viewed China's moves in the region with caution, especially the militarization of islands in the South China Sea, where trillions of dollars worth of trade pass through each year.

"India stands for a free, open, inclusive Indo-Pacific region, which embraces us all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity. It includes all nations in this geography as also others beyond who have a stake in it," Modi said.

"We should all be equally permitted to benefit from the use of common spaces on sea and in the air without discrimination. When we all agree to live by that code, our sea lanes will be pathways to prosperity and corridors to peace," he said.

Foreign speech, domestic audience

With faltering poll numbers back home, Modi's keynote speech in Singapore provided the prime minister with the ideal platform in which to address a domestic audience and bolster his standing among voters.

"It's part of his attempt to strengthen his reputation as a regional and international statesman who is listened to the world over," said Karnad.

India is gearing up to go the polls, with elections expected before May next year. Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) though still dominant nationally, has failed to meet expectations in recent local elections.

The BJP failed to gain a majority in mid-May's state-level election in Karnataka, a contest seen as a key barometer in the lead up to the national vote and suffered a loss in a closely watched by-election in the critical state of Uttar Pradesh this week.

Addressing voters in India directly, Modi linked India's global integration to domestic prosperity, promising to sustain the country's economic growth rate of "7.5% to 8% per year" and transform India to "a New India by 2022."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 159036

Reported Deaths: 3879
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
47° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 44°
Columbus
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 39°
Oxford
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 38°
Starkville
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 40°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather