Attempts to overcome the grouping’s internal divisions to move on two critical issues – the South China Sea disputes and engagement with Myanmar – are a positive development.
The crisis has highlighted shared areas of concern in economics and defence across Southeast Asia, where ties with Russia are complicated and hard to sever. India’s avoidance of bloc politics makes it more attractive as a strategic partner.
New Delhi’s decision to send warships to a region fraught with geopolitical tension has raised eyebrows. But rather than a move aimed at countering China, India is driven by a desire to expand its defence industry and better establish itself as a rising benign power.