BIG PICTURE : The Indo Pacific : USA Strategy
- Recently a document has been put out which is pointing out towards United states assertions that it will put in more robust military power in the Indo Pacific region and it is also pointing out towards China as having the potential to mount a challenge to stable international order out there.
- The document listed 8 areas of concern like pandemic, climate change, terrorism, etc.
- Interestingly China is now a category in itself, so US is trying to set up a doctrinal and conceptual basis for the policies that will unfold in an organized way.
- Biden has announced a summit of quad leaders which is a summit of prime ministers and presidents of the four countries, Japan, Australia, India and the US which is very promising in terms of signalling to the Chinese.
Strategies of USA and the way in which it will impact India’s interest-
With respect to Indo-Pacific strategies of USA
- Biden administration means that they want to consult allies and work closely with allies to become powerful with this new Indo-Pacific strategy.
- Since Quad has become a part of Indo-pacific strategy so there will be a lot of focus on it which will clearly bring India into the picture as well.
- Significance of robust military presence in Indo-Pacific is that US needs allies in the maritime domain also to challenge China against it’s unethical trade practices, IP theft, bullying, artificial islands, etc.
- China will present the main geopolitical challenge of 21st century, so US strategize for long-term competition by investing in a lot in military to military relationships in the Indo-Pacific region. and the announcement of the quad summit shows that there is a sense of urgency.
- India has an economy that has recovered faster. India is growing faster, catching up and will overtake the US. Biden administration will have to realize that they have to invest a lot in relationships with major countries like India and the summit of the quad is sounding like a real game changer.
Role of Quad
- The quad is only of the 4 countries but it’s a beginning of something that could become quite significant in itself because of which the countries that are involved.
- Quad summit is a very fast strategy that US is pursuing but it’s desperately needed that something as powerful as NATO is developed like that in Europe as the role that NATO played recently vis-à-vis the west’s most significant adversary during the cold war. There is a need of a similar alliance to deal with China.
- Chinese threat is not primarily about military power but it’s a whole enormous package of challenges that world faces that need to be addressed in some sort of more formalized alliance so quad is quickly turning from a ministerial dinner club to something much more than that.
Strategy document with reference to the Indian interest in the Indo pacific region
- The whole free open Indo-Pacific is what India subscribes to and so do the other quad members and this is essentially in contrast to the belt and road initiative idea of the Chinese because that is to establish hegemony so it’s like a counter hegemonic coalition and in this region the United States is not seen as hegemonic by India.
- In terms of entering formal military alliance India have lots of taboos but short of that this is a global strategy partnership with the US and likewise India has two plus two ministerial dialogues with Australia, Japan, and US, which means both the foreign ministers and the defense ministers depicting a strong security angle.
- A broader diplomatic association is expected so India is looking at about creating democratic resilience that is what the quad members are saying and the Biden administration is pushing.
- This means that in this region there are a lot of countries where there is authoritarian rule, for example the crisis in Myanmar right now, there is lot of scope for Japan, India, Australia and the US to come to join hands and do something, not in the form of the over military intervention but creatively to try and stabilize the situation there.
- India have been wanting the ASEAN countries specially Indonesia, Vietnam to buy into the Indo-Pacific idea because ASEAN is a central block geographically and also in terms of the number of countries there, if they are not on board then Indo-Pacific idea may not be a reality.
- ASEAN are little reluctant because of the heavy dependency on China economically and they are all part of RCEP. Nonetheless, they are looking to diversify and also to make sure that the Chinese bullying of the small southeast Asian countries over territorial and maritime rights cannot be abandoned simply because China is there main trading partner.
- On pairing up with big countries like Indonesia, there is a lot of synergy and India can launch some joint projects e.g. a 5G network plan, Infrastructure development, US offshore balancing etc.
Other countries which are needed for expansion-
- More institutionalization of quad should happen and India should expand by inviting some other member countries to join it by making democracy as the bedrock of the new coalition. Then only some countries may join without the fear of backlash from the Chinese like Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Russia.
- Vietnam should be there because of a geopolitical region and because it has always resisted Chinese hegemony in the region. Russia is a big military power and must be involved in Naval spheres too.
- The Europeans should be brought in because Britain and France have already committed to play a limited but important military role in Indian Ocean Region also EU wants to have a permanent Naval presence in the Indo Pacific along with the Americans at least on paper because of Diego Garcia and Reunion Island and territories in the Indian ocean region.
To challenge XI Jinping’s authoritarian and aggressive China this is the right time for this kind of coordination so that Chinese should feel the heat otherwise they will continue to rise to a point where they become unstoppable and the whole region is going to become the Chinese take in the industry.