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This week our top story examines the surprising result of India’s general election. We also have an interview with George Takach, author of “Cold War 2.0,” about the second coming of the Cold War and the China-Russia axis.
The Diplomat Brief
June 5,
Taiwan Fellowship
Welcome to the latest issue of Diplomat Brief. This week our top story examines the surprising result of India’s general election. We also have an interview with George Takach, author of “Cold War 2.0,” about the second coming of the Cold War and the China-Russia axis.
Story of the week
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Decoding India’s Elections: How Modi's Grip Loosened

What Happened: On June 4, the results from India’s 2024 general election were announced. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi managed to secure a third term, it was a undeniable set back for his BJP, which lost 63 seats from its 2019 total. With just 240 out of 543 seats in India’s Parliament, the BJP will have to rely on its coalition partners to pursue its agenda – something Modi has never experienced.

Our Focus: Many read the election results as a sign of public discontent with Modi, personally, as he had made the campaign largely about himself. “Never before in Indian democracy had a leader presented himself or herself as someone sent by God. This hubris… turned out to be unacceptable,” Apoorvanand, a professor of Hindi literature at Delhi University and a political commentator, told The Diplomat. But Sanjay Kumar, a professor and co-director of the research program Lokniti, pointed out that the election had“no pan-India narrative. The BJP suffered in states that it dominated for the past 10 years but also earned popularity in states where it has never been in power.” In fact, Kumar said, with the BJP suffering defeats in its traditional strongholds, its “ability to expand beyond the traditional hold has saved it from a rout.”

What Comes Next: Overall, while the focus has been on the performance of the two main coalitions as a whole, the biggest take-away from the election may be the smashing success of regional parties. In Uttar Pradesh, for example, the BJP’s stunning fall was due not to the success of the Congress but to the Congress-allied Samajwadi Party, which won 37 of the state’s 80 seats, but zero seats in the rest of the country. Moving forward, Modi’s governing coalition will be dependent on two regional parties – Janata Dal (United) of Bihar state and the Telugu Desum Party of Andhra Pradesh – to have a majority. Notably, these regional allies are less interested in Modi’s brand of Hindutva-heavy politics.

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Behind the News


George Takach

George Takach, author of “Cold War 2.0,” on the role of technology in the new great power rivalry: “Advancements in military technology are proving invaluable in defensive operations, as seen in the deployment of naval vessels equipped with Aegis air defense systems… The ongoing development of surface and subsurface drones further underscores the rapid evolution of military capabilities.”

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This Week in Asia

Northeast Asia

China Under Increasing Fire for Its Role in Ukraine War

On June 2, during a surprise appearance at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy adopted an unusually harsh tone toward China. For the first time, he directly accused Beijing of being an impediment to peace, including supplying Russia with dual-use goods despite promises to the contrary. Zelenskyy’s comments came roughly two weeks after Russian President Putin was feted in Beijing. The China-Russia joint statement leaned heavily into Russian tropes about the need for buffer zones and special security privileges for nuclear powers in their neighborhood, alarming policymakers in Europe.

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South Asia

Bangladesh’s Local Elections Spark Little Interest

While India’s general election results were covered with feverish interest around the world, neighboring Bangladesh also concluded polls this week – its local elections wrapped up on June 5. But with the main opposition parties once again boycotting, citing an unlevel playing field, the upazila elections attracted little interest even from Bangladeshi voters.

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Southeast Asia

Thailand Launches BRICS Bid

Thailand’s government this week announced that it will apply to join the BRICS bloc of emerging nations, in a bid to revive its stagnant economy and boost its global diplomatic profile. The country is one of 15 nations hoping for membership in the amorphous non-Western grouping, which has positioned itself as an alternative to the U.S.-led international order. If approved, Thailand would become the group’s first member from Southeast Asia. Given that Thailand is also seeking to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a bastion of the established global order, its BRICS membership bid is a good illustration of the country’s intention to have its cake and eat it too in an age of increasing geopolitical contestation.

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Central Asia

For Central Asia, Pragmatism Dominates Afghanistan Policy

Although Kazakhstan removed the Taliban from its terrorist list in December, it was only recently that President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev spoke openly about the government’s reasons. He cited the “importance of developing trade and economic cooperation” with Afghanistan and the pragmatic “understanding that this regime is a long-term factor.” Russia is expected to follow suit soon in removing the Taliban from its own terrorist list. What do these shifts mean for the touchy subject of “recognition” of the Taliban’s government?

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Visualizing APAC

Source: IEA

Over the past decade, China has carved out a near-monopoly position in the manufacturing of the solar power photovoltaic industry.

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Word of the Week


Atin Ito

Tagalog for “This is ours,” it’s the name of a civilian activist group that seeks to assert the Philippines’ claims to disputed features in the South China Sea.

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Papua New Guinea: All Geopolitics Is Local

The Diplomat Magazine | June 2024

Papua New Guinea:
All Geopolitics Is Local

This month, our cover story draws out the complex interplay between Papua New Guinea’s domestic instability and the country’s pivotal role in great power competition in the Pacific. We also scrutinize the deep roots of Pakistan’s ongoing economic crisis and take stock of how different Indo-Pacific states are approaching the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. And, of course, we offer a range of reporting, analysis, and opinion from across the region.

Read the Magazine