US a more flexible partner than in past: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said that the US today was a much more flexible partner, much more open to ideas, suggestions, working arrangements than in the past.

“I have been dealing with the US for close to 40 years now. US today is a much more flexible partner, much more open to ideas, suggestions, working arrangements, than in the past,” Jaishankar said in response to a query during the panel discussion “Greater Power Competition: The Emerging World Order” at the Bloomberg New Economic Forum event in Singapore.

Answering another query, he said the manner of China’s growing influence was very different from the US. “There is no question that the US has strategically contracted for some time. Relatively and absolutely, American power and American influence are not what they used to be. It is also clear China has been expanding, but the nature of China, the manner of its growing influence is very different from the US, and we don’t have a situation where China necessarily replaces the others—US,” he said.

“It is natural to think of the US, China as the big one, but there are other countries, not just India, which have come much more into play. There has been rebalancing in the world. I think different countries have different ways to do that. In essence, the landscape has changed and become more volatile,” he added.

The session was also attended by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Referring to Quad, which is a grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the US, Jaishankar said, “It is a good example of some countries coming together on a certain set of concerns or issues of interest.”

“This reflects a very different kind of world we are moving into…the real transition after 1982 is now occurring,” he added.

Answering a question about how the world was changing, he said it was not unipolar and not bipolar either. “It is certainly not unipolar and it is not really bipolar either. There are many more players. A lot of what we are doing in terms of repositioning, working with countries, (it) is multipolar work,” he said.

“In a sense, it is partly a hedging strategy, partly autonomous partnership, often very issue-based (as) we work with different countries on different sets of issues,” the minister said.

He also lauded the Quad’s efforts in producing, distributing Covid-19 vaccines and said that the group has a “resilient, reliable supply chain”. “It’s interesting, one of the initiatives under Quad to jointly produce and distribute vaccines, which would be an American vaccine, made in India, Japanese will come in with a lot of financial support and Australians with a lot of logistics support,” he added.

“For me, it’s decentralized globalization, a more resilient, reliable supply chain. More trust and transparency, but also more flexible combinations, sit down and produce solutions to particular challenges,” he said.