India’s place in the new US Indo-Pacific strategy – The Diplomat
Earlier this month, the Biden administration released its new Indo-Pacific Strategy which defined Washington’s goals in the region, America’s role in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific, strengthening connectivity in the region and beyond, promoting a prosperous region , increasing the region’s security and building regional resilience to deal with a range of transnational threats and challenges. A fact sheet on strategy said the administration’s vision is “to anchor the United States more firmly in the Indo-Pacific and strengthen the region in the process” while committing to “sustained and creative collaboration with allies, partners and institutions, within the region and beyond. In a substantive press briefing on the strategy, senior administration officials declared that the strategy has two key objectives: “to strengthen the role of the United States in the region”; and “to build collective capacity to meet the challenges of the 21st century and seize the opportunities, whether it is the climate, the behavior of the PRC or preparing for and recovering from the next pandemic. “.
The strategy has rightly drawn U.S. attention to a number of significant challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region, particularly those posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The PRC’s use of diplomatic, military and technological prowess to establish or maintain its own sphere of influence and become the “most influential power in the world” is noted. The strategy adds that while China’s aggressiveness is not limited to the Indo-Pacific region and is seen around the world, “it is most acute in the Indo-Pacific” as seen in trade coercion and against Australia, aggression against India across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), coercive military tactics against Taiwan, or bullying behavior against neighbors in the East and South China Seas, which have had to bear the brunt of the “harmful behavior of the PRC”. Furthermore, the strategy highlights the flagrant violation of human rights and international law, including the freedom of navigation.
In recognition of these threats and challenges, the fact sheet insists that the United States will use “every instrument of power to deter aggression and counter coercion” through a series of steps including “the promotion of integrated deterrence, deepening cooperation and enhancing interoperability with allies and partners”. , maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, innovating to operate in rapidly changing threat environments, including space, cyberspace, and critical and emerging technology areas, enhancing extensive deterrence and coordination with our allies of the Republic of Korea and Japan and pursue the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, continuing to deliver AUKUS, expanding U.S. Coast Guard presence and cooperation against other transnational threats, and working with Congress to fund the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and the Maritime Security Initiative.
The strategy also prioritizes the United States’ “network of security alliances and partnerships” with which the United States intends to “develop and deploy advanced combat capabilities.”
India finds a prominent place in this context. Washington “will continue to build a strategic partnership in which the United States and India will work together and through regional groupings to promote stability in South Asia” and “will steadily advance our major defense partnership with India.” and support its role as network security provider. The strategy also identified India as “a like-minded partner and leader in South Asia and the Indian Ocean”… “a driving force behind the Quad and other regional forums, and a driver for regional growth and development”. The strategy’s focus on India as the core of the Quad is remarkable, given that India is often seen as the weakest link among Quad partners.
Highlighting the importance of India, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, during a telephone press conference, noted that “India is more than just a partner. We work more closely with India on a daily basis than any other country in the region. Lu, who was part of the US delegation to the Quad foreign ministers’ meeting, said Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had “an open and honest conversation”. which was indicative of the “close relationship we have with”. another…. And we talk about all the problems, including the most difficult ones.
Although the documents detail the logic of the US strategy and a number of challenges, mostly emanating from China, some critics say Biden’s Indo-Pacific strategy is not focused enough on countering the Chinese threat. Craig Singleton, analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, noted that the strategy bears so many similarities to Obama’s and Trump’s efforts on the Indo-Pacific that “the United States will continue to hold its own in the region.” This plan lacks specificity, lacks detail, and there are significant gaps in terms of strengthening the US geoeconomic position in Asia.
Senior officials during their briefing were disengage that the Indo-Pacific strategy was not just a Chinese strategy.
The strategy appears to recognize this “not just China” approach by focusing on regional needs, such as those of the countries of South East Asia. The strategy highlights the centrality of ASEAN and “the support[s] ASEAN in its efforts to provide lasting solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges,” which is seen as an improvement over the Trump administration’s efforts to “provoke[ing] ASEAN to confront China. Likewise, the strategy recognizes the important role of France as well as “the strategic value of a growing regional role for the European Union (EU)”. So instead of abandoning Europe for the Indo-Pacific, the effort appears to be an effort to integrate Europe into the Indo-Pacific, as other analysts have put it. underline.
In sum, the new Indo-Pacific strategy appears to take regional concerns more seriously, while re-emphasizing the importance of US interests in the region and Washington’s recognition of the need for partners in pursuing those interests.