New Delhi, Jan 10: The upcoming Republic Day will become a diplomatic festival for India as the country will host the biggest ever group of chief guests at the iconic parade. The national festival comes a day after the ASEAN-India commemorative summit, where all the 10 ASEAN nations are invited. It is expected that India will try to position itself as an alternative to China.

India is expected to stress on the point that the country knows the “ASEAN way of doing business” and believes in the “centrality” of ASEAN.

India will woo the countries with its maritime security and cooperation plans. The countries will be given a detailed summary of India’s connectivity plans, the Hindu reported. This will be done as India wants to catch up with China which is enhancing its connectivity with South Asian countries through its One Belt One Road initiative.

In response to China’s aggressive posturing in South China sea, the ASEAN leaders seek a greater role by India in the region. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will apprise the nations about the construction activities undertaken by India to improve connectivity. He will give an update on the trilateral highway between India and Thailand via Myanmar. The highway is expected to be completed by 2020– and later extended to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Several other connectivity programmes will also be discussed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Rodrigo Duterte of Philippines in 2017 for the summit which celebrates 25 years of India-ASEAN relationship. Modi later invited other leaders as well.