India and Australia Leverage Advantage in Essential Cyber, Tech and Space Domains

As 2024 begins, the international security landscape is dominated by threats from Russia, Iran, and China, with democratic nations needing to respond proactively and collectively. A significant geostrategic trend is India’s emergence as a global player, aligning strategically with democratic counterparts like its Quad partners. India’s rise on the global stage has been demonstrated through hosting the G20, landing a spacecraft on the moon, and participating in a Quad Foreign Ministers’ meeting at the United Nations.

India’s position as a rising power is seen as crucial in counterbalancing China’s influence. It’s leveraging its status as a technology powerhouse domestically and in international relations. However, India’s rise does not mean overlooking its imperfections, and it’s essential to work with India proactively to navigate the challenges of critical technology and security.

The AUKUS partnership was established in response to Beijing’s military build-up and its objective of surpassing the US in technological superiority. Australia has committed to the AUKUS partnership and its focus on defense technology, but India should also be considered a top-tier partner in critical technologies. India’s participation in the Quad and national resilience policies are motivated by the recognition of Beijing’s potential technological power.

India has been proactive in de-risking its relationship with Beijing, banning more than 350 apps since 2020 due to data security, privacy, and espionage concerns. Other Quad partners, the UK, and European countries like the Netherlands are also seeking to de-risk, but are fearful of the consequences of widespread prohibitions.

The article suggests that Australia and other nations can learn from India’s approach, especially given India’s presence in diverse fields like 5G telecommunications, energy security, space, and military technology. India’s advancements in space technology, including landing the Chandrayaan 3 on the South Pole of the Moon, underscore the importance of India as a technology partner. As a re-emerging space power, Australia should cooperate with India in all sectors of space, from civil to commercial to national security.

The article further highlights the importance of collaboration across a wide range of sectors, as China is positioning itself as the world’s leading science and technology superpower. The only realistic way for like-minded nations to compete with China is to improve their tech collaboration, with India being a key player. For instance, India is ranked third in high-end research into biological manufacturing and second in biofuels, crucial for energy security and climate protection.

The upcoming Raisina Dialogue in Australia will provide an opportunity to discuss deepening cooperation between the two countries in these key areas. While India is not likely to become Australia’s next treaty ally, an aligned India can be just as important. Despite some confusion and angst over India’s Russia policy, India’s commitment to peace should align it with the deterrence and stability policy of its Quad partners. The article concludes by urging collaboration with India to help it compete technologically with China and contribute to regional deterrence and stability.

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