“Indo-Pacific”: The Emerging Strategic Construct
The term “Asia-Pacific” has been replaced by “Indo-Pacific” as the new strategic buzzword in recent years. As a matter of fact, ‘Asia-Pacific” was never acceptably defined. India, a large size country with a dynamic economy and nuclear capability, did not find a place in “Asia-Pacific”, whereas Australia and New Zealand, which mostly identified themselves as Western countries, were regarded as key players in the Asia-Pacific region.
There is little doubt that economic dynamism of some countries made Asia-Pacific a spotlight of global affairs. The high economic performances of “Asian Tigers” and China’s galloping economy made this region a happening place for traders and investors. However, the situation has changed now. The Asian financial crisis in late 1990s, global recession during the closing years of the first decade of the 21st Century, India’s rise as an economic powerhouse, China’s growing dependence on Indian Ocean sea lanes to import its energy resources from the Persian Gulf and natural resources from Africa and the US decision to redesign its strategic concepts in the light of its relative decline have given birth to the geopolitical concept of Indo-Pacific. Asia-Pacific now is subsumed under the larger geographical region of the Indo-Pacific.
While President Donald Trump’s predecessors have occasionally used the term “Indo-Pacific”, his administration is to be credited for giving this strategic concept clarity and shape. President Trump during his recent ten-day trip to a few Asian countries used the term numerous times. On his return to Washington, he released his administration’s “National Security Strategy Report” that has given priority of place to “Indo-Pacific” region compared with Europe and the Middle East. The report has underlined the growing strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific, highlighted the significance of defence and security partnership between the US and India for stability and prosperity of this region and has resolved to deal with unacceptable Chinese assertiveness in the maritime sector by promoting quadrilateral cooperation involving the US, Japan, India and Australia.
The idea of quadrilateral cooperation is not new. The “Cold Confrontation” between the United States and China, moreover, was already evolving when Trump entered the White House. However, the National Security Strategy Report of 2017 indicates that the Trump Administration will seek to deal with China’s “Cold Confrontation” by boosting of the “Quad” or the Quadrilateral Cooperation among the robust democratic powers of the Indo-Pacific region.
Soon after the release of the American NSS Report, the Australian Government released a White Paper on Foreign Policy. After long 13 years such a White Paper was made public by the Australian Government that has emphasized the Australian approach towards the “Indo-Pacific” region. In fact, the strategic outlook of Australia for decades has viewed Indo-Pacific as the credible strategic region in Canberra’s perspective. Nonetheless, Australian leaders and strategic analysts began to converse on foreign affairs and strategic issues by using “Asia-Pacific” as the reference point. Things have changed for Australia and the White Paper makes it clear that “Indo-Pacific” now would be principal reference region for its foreign affairs and defence analysis.
When the Obama Administration officials began to use the term “Indo-Pacific”, the UPA Government took due note of it, sparingly used this term and appeared hesitant to repeatedly use it in official statements. But the NDA Government under the leadership of Narendra Modi is downright unambiguous to embrace the strategic concept of “Indo-Pacific”. For the United States, this region stretches from the West Coast of India to the Western shores of the United States and encompasses all the countries located along the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. For India, the western boundary of Indo-Pacific should stretch up to the eastern coast of the African continent and the Persian Gulf. This is the natural region that should shape India’s diplomatic and strategic policies and visions.
Japan too looks at Indo-Pacific as the right reference point for its economic, political and strategic policies. By enhancing all-rounded engagements with India, by its willingness to partially finance Asia-Africa Growth Corridor and actively backing its original initiative for creating a “Quad” Japan will be a proactive player in this region.
Keeping in mind all these major developments, the World Focus decided to bring out a special issue. Young scholars, in particular, have been approached to contribute articles on this theme. It is an evolving geopolitical issue and views of the young scholars thus would contribute towards understanding the key developments unfolding in this critical region.
Prof. Chintamani Mahapatra
Professor of SIS & Rector, JNU
United States President Donald Trump took an 11-days marathon Asian jaunt during November 5-14, 2017 and visited South Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam and Philippines. Spread over 12 days, this was his first Asian visit with the credit of being the most number of countries so far on a single leg of his foreign visits.You need to subscribe hard copy
Indo-Pacific, for its economic potential and strategic importance, has surely emerged as the new ‘power zone’ of global political system with the entire world attention focused on it. In the context of belligerent war threats from North Korea, the intensification of geo-political conflicts among dominant players like India, China, Japan and ASEAN members and the ensuing power realignments, the region has become the new theatre of power struggle in Asia.You need to subscribe hard copy
Indo-Pacific has quickly acquired the status of being perhaps the most prominent geopolitical construct of the 21st century. The element of China’s rise and the need for a stable Indo-Pacific security architecturereflect the realities of the emerging geopolitics, that gives importance and recognition to the centrality of India’s role as the net security provider of the Indian Ocean region.You need to subscribe hard copy
Australia has become one of the major partners of India in the Indo-Pacific region in terms of economic and security matters. Cooperation between the two have traversed nuclear, naval, trade, security and cultural fields. Such cooperation was rendered possible due to the end of the Cold War, the change in India-US ties, convergence of economic and security concerns of India and Australia among other factors.You need to subscribe hard copy
International politics involves a complex array of power equations which are constantly changing. With the coming of the 21st century, Indo-pacific reflects the current fulcrum of power. It is also becoming a new arena of conflict and contestation since powerful nations are trying to curve out relative gains from the regionYou need to subscribe hard copy
There was a time when the sun never used to set on the British Empire. It looks like and in all probability, it will be the same for China under Xi Jinping a vision of a great nation he has, the Sun will never set over the Chinese islands, business/military Joint ventures spreading all over the world. Zheng He(Cheng Ho) a great Chinese explorer and admiral in the Ming Dynasty who made seven expeditions in the Indian ocean from 1405-1433 and adhered to the traditional Confucian with the notion that China was superior to her neighbours. To spread Confucianism and the Chinese grandeur, a lot was spent on these voyage ships. On his seventh voyage, he died in 1433 in an Indian city Kozhikode (Calicut) in Kerala. The seven missions did expand China’s political control over most of maritime nations of Asia until the 19th century.Read Full Article
The Asia-Pacific region has suffered some of the worst natural disasters. The U.S. military has assisted in quite a many disaster relief operations. Due to the unique capabilities the military possesses regarding assets and its presence, the military is expected to be first on the scene. With the increasing number of natural disaster, one could only aspect of continuing military presence.You need to subscribe hard copy
Way before Soft Power became an acknowledged means to power for a nation in the post-modern world; authors like W.T. Stead spoke more than a century back about America’s influence abroad. In his 1902 acclaimed book titled ‘Americanization of the World: or the Trend of the Twentieth Century’, he located America’s core power not in its military capability, but rather in its zealous goal of wealth acquisition and the spread of American culture abroad.You need to subscribe hard copy
United States emergence in the aftermath of World War II created a regional stability in Southeast Asia by being the security guarantor of the region and establishing a rule-based order. Creation of ASEAN as a regional forum leaped the way forward for institution-based order. However, the 21st century has posed new challenges and opportunities.You need to subscribe hard copy
Asia and Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) is an initiative jointly launched by India and Japan. This initiative will connect South Asia, South East Asia, East Asia and Oceania to African Continent. It is being viewed as an initiative, announced asa substitute to China’s Belt and Road initiative.You need to subscribe hard copy
During US president Donald Trump’s recent trip to Asia, he repeatedly used the term ‘Indo-Pacific’, instead of using ‘Asia-Pacific’, to denote the Asian region. It gave a sudden boost to the use of the term in the annals of the White House and, unsurprisingly, irked China.You need to subscribe hard copy
Donald J. Trump, the current President of the United States, raised serious questions over the legitimacy of the US defense spending in the Asia Pacific region in his campaign. Why should the US be the policeman of the world? Why should the US rush to protect Japan or South Korea in case of any attack if they will not do the same?You need to subscribe hard copy
The US-China relationship is an important and a very crucial one in the international relations. Donald Trump has completed its 10 months of presidency and the bilateral relations have gone through from many ups and down to a whole new strategy in a very constructive manner, where the basic agenda of the Washington is to manage a good relation with the Beijing for its foreign and national security.You need to subscribe hard copy
The QSD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) being revisited after ten years gap marks the significant importance the indo-pacific region holds. The article divided into five parts mainly focuses reasons and implications of what necessitated the return of Quad (Australia, India, Japan and United States).You need to subscribe hard copy
Indo-Pacific has occupied central position in international affairs since the first decade of twenty first century although it came to widely used and looked for since 2010. The term is coined by Captain Gurpreet Khurana in 2007 where he visualized connecting eastern Indian Ocean to western Pacific Ocean via Malacca straitYou need to subscribe hard copy
Indo-Pacific has been used in the field of marine and oceanography for a long time and has a wide acceptance among the oceanographers as representing a ‘bio-geographic’ region comprising the waters of the Indian Ocean and the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.You need to subscribe hard copy
This paper analyses the common maritime environmental threats shared by the countries of South Asia region which has the potential of becoming a security issue. It gives an overview of a host of environmental problems like resource depletion and pollution resulting due to anthropogenic stress coupled with threats arising from global climatic changes in the Indian Ocean.You need to subscribe hard copy
The US President Donald J. Trump after assuming the office on January 20, 2017, departed for his first longest foreign visit and longest trip to Asia between November 3, 2017 and November 14, 2017 covering five countries of Asia – Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and Philippines.You need to subscribe hard copy
In the traditional geopolitical discourse of international relations, Asia-Pacific region have been discussed with Japan, China, ASEAN courtiers and the United States of America. In the 21st century as the power equations get rebalanced, India have been inducted in the narrative of regional geopolitics of Asia-Pacific to the extent of a new nomenclature – Indo-Pacific.You need to subscribe hard copy
Indo-Pacific Region is combination of Asia Pacific Region (APR) and Indian Ocean Region (IOR) connected by busy straits of Malacca, Sunda, Lombok and Makassar. The region encompasses almost half of the world population, a third of the top twenty economies, world GDP and exports.You need to subscribe hard copy