“Indo-pacific” is a primarily understood as a US-led containment strategy against China. “Indo-Pacific” has lately entered the geo-strategic discourse as a substitute for the more established term “Asia-Pacific”, which is more of an economic conception, rather than a security related nation. On the other hand, the Indo-Pacific is an integrated theatre that combines the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean
Leaders and senior policy figures from Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan and United States are increasingly using the term “Indo-Pacific” or similar language in speeches and statements. The interesting fact is that China, under President Xi Jinping has promoted “Maritime silk road” idea since late 2013 , as a way to define it’s economic and diplomatic engagement across the Indian ocean and beyond.
The evolution of India’s ‘Look East’ policy to an ‘Act East’ agenda under PM Narendra Modi, is part of a serious effort by India to become a more influential power in east of Malacca. Meanwhile other Asian middle powers, such as the Republic of Korea, are acknowledging their economic and strategical dependence on development across a much wider maritime region, from the middle east to the United States.
Chains had already launched the “Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)’ to strengthen win-win cooperation and inter-connectivity within the region. From the geopolitics perspective, the United States has perceived a strong and increasing challenge from China. Hence the Supreme country became desperate to maintain it’s global supremacy by increasing it’s military presence in the Indo-Pacific region. The primary focus of United States is to enhance it’s quadrilateral strategic cooperation with Japan, Australia and India while handing Chinese power and US-China tensions.
Today U.S. has strong and growing ties with India. They talked about ‘Indo-Pacific’ in past because that phrase has already captured the importance of India’s rise. A free and open Indo-Pacific reveals the vision of ‘free flow of commerce’ to that region. The free access of this region is now being aimed by the United States to reaffirm it’s commitment to the continued stability of this region allowing for freedom of navigation, freedom of market place and free markets. It may increase the quadrilateral Strategic partnership with the countries across the region and may protect this region against Chinese aggression.
Truly India is becoming a growing security partner and hence India should be given that they are really sort of. “India to the west; the United States the east” , this vision , currently U.S. has. Moreover, managing strategic challenges from China, has become the topmost foreign policy priority for India. Today India feels the urgent needs to step up quadrilateral security cooperation with the U.S., Japan and Australia, given the constraints of New Delhi-Beijing rapprochement.
In recent years, the Indo-Pacific strategy and the Quad concept have been introduced and advocated by various countries at various points in time. Japan held talks with India and promoted the “Indo-Pacific Strategy” several times. Against the backdrop of the relative weakening of the United States’ dominant position and the increasing shift of geopolitical and economic gravity to the Indo-Pacific, the aim is to reshape alliances and partnerships to respond to China’s rise.
India can take this opportunity to promote the justification and rationalization of its interests in Southeast Asia. India tries to expand its presence in East Asia, strengthen its political, economic and military cooperation with the United States and its allies, and comprehensively increase it’s influence in international affairs. Indonesia and Singapore are also supporters of the “Indo-Pacific Strategy” concept due to the location advantages.
Some critics have argued that “Indo-pacific” is still a vague and a new concept. Also the “Indo-Pacific” strategy focuses emphasis the “pillar of four countries” like U.S.,Japan,India and Australia. It may ignore the status and role of South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, and other countries in the framework. Right now, Moscow will not embed itself in the Indo-Pacific framework. There is no doubt that Russia, with its growing appetite for distant geographies, will be looking for options to bolster its influence in that region as well. Russia may search for ‘like-minded’ states across the Indo-Pacific region, bringing it closer to China, Iran and Pakistan. As a side effect, such strategic thinking has an unfortunate impact on the relationship with India, Japan and ultimately U.S. Therefore, still lot of confusions are still existing while reshaping the alliances and strategic partnership with the concerned nations.
Though the concept ‘Indo-Pacific’ is a new in compare to the established concept ‘Asia-Pacific’ but it is not narrowly American , rather it renews the regional enduring maritime and multipolar character. In 2006, India and Japan began sharing strategic assessments. A few months later in August 2007, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed the Indian Parliament, speaking of the “Confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans”. The ASEAN (Association of South East Asia Nation) had already taken a big step towards bringing the eastern Indian Ocean with the Pacific. The Indo-Pacific is being posited as a counter to the ‘Belt and Raod (BRI) initiative. However, there is no denying the fact that an effective U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy should involve a focus on competing with China rather than confronting them.