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Australia Bringing India Into Strategic, Economic 1st Tier: Former Foreign Secretary Peter Varghese

NEW DELHI:  On ‘Talking Point’, Peter N. Varghese, Chancellor of the University of Queensland, Former Secretary, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Australia’s Ex-High Commissioner to India and Author of the ‘India Economic Strategy to 2035’ report in discussion with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi.

“The Australia-India relationship has got a very bright future because it is increasingly based on hard interest,” Canberra’s former top diplomat says, adding, “we’re well on our way” to bringing “India into the first tier of Australia’s relationships on the strategic and economic point of view. Economically, maybe it’s slower but we’ll get there.”

Though “China’s own behavior has linked a measure of unity to the Quad, that it never had before,” Ambassador Varghese believes “we can still stop short of a second Cold War, but I suspect it will involve these twin strategies of both engaging and constraining China. On the Australia-UK-U.S.(AUKUS) strategic partnership, he says, ” it’s not that an alliance isn’t crucial for the overall security of Australia, (but), we should be basing our thinking on the capacity to defend ourselves without the combat assistance of the United States.”

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In this comprehensive chat, the former Foreign Secretary also analyses France’s “bruised feelings”, “collective pushback”, “strategic equilibrium in the Indo-Pacific”, what if China “crosses red lines”, “the 700,000 strong Indian diaspora as cultural and business navigators”, why he’s sceptical of “aiming towards an early harvest trade deal” in the search for a CECA(Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement), the “huge U.S. mistake” on the TPP(Trans Pacific Partnership) and TPP Mark 2 or the CPTPP.

The current Chancellor of the University of Queensland also gives his perspective on Chinese influence in Australia’s educational institutions and ” the mechanisms in place to enable warning bells to ring.”