Ahead of G20, India sent down a ‘littoral’ message

Global attention that is both transient and fickle is currently focused on G20 summit at Hangzhou that is being seen as Chinese President Xi Jinpings Olympic equivalent. The 2008 Beijing Games were the high point of the Hu Jintao era. But alas, the Xi script seems to have gone awry. Early reports dwelt on the unseemly exchange between Chinese and US officials over the protocols related to US President Barack Obama’s arrival and an intriguing visual showing him disembarking from the underbelly of Air Force One. Predictably, social media was shrill and one post that was particularly unsavory noted: “Apparently Obama is treated like shit in Hangzhou.”

This G20 summit being hosted by China is rich in symbolism of different shades and the fact that it comes soon after an international tribunal rejected Beijing’s South China Sea (SCS) claim and upheld that of the Philippines is only the more visible. The extended western Pacific littoral from Japan down to Singapore exudes varying degrees of anxiety about China’s maritime assertiveness.

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