It is absolutely confirmed that the “Indo-Pacific” has raised concerns in China and Russia - the emerging power in the region. The “Indo-Pacific” is designed to compete with China and also with Russia. This term “Indo-Pacific” has been used to narrow down China more significantly. Under the process, the U.S. Pacific Commanded has been named as the “Indo-Pacific Command” on 30 May - the largest U.S. command with its Headquarters in Hawaii.
China has been going with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) - delicate pheromone. China sees the coming of the “Indo Pacific” as encircling China under the “Freedom of Navigation” in the South China Sea and even beyond. US, Japan, India and Australia have been crafting a different world for their needs. Challenges, however, cannot be mitigated.
The United States is trying to revive the Quadrilateral strategic alliance consisting of the U.S, Japan, Australia and India to counter China’s rise in the market. The phrase has circulated in foreign policy circles for years—it was occasionally used by former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The policy is to reshape America’s interests in wake of the rising China and its consequences. Whilst sitting in the centre, ASEAN concerns are there too as the term “Indo-Pacific” will alter the existing order in the region, favouring a group of a particular nations .
The “Asia Pacific” signalled great importance to India. Within this rift, countries are developing the region for the convenience. The shift to the “Indo-Pacific” look arduous. In case Indo-Pacific strategy gives additional benefits to India and undermine the strength of China, a powerful reaction from China is never unexpected. Will China and India be threatening each other and coming closer, is not clear yet.
But this does not mean that the idea of the “Indo-Pacific” would be broken down to any strength. The real strength behind the “Indo-Pacific” would continued and with and without calculating risks factors. While Beijing is fully committed in improving ties with Japan and taking full diplomatic relations with India, there is very little left in not improving ties with China than far flying idea of the “Indo-Pacific” with little gains in economic terms.
Instead of containing and isolating China at a time when its economic cloud is developing, it would be good idea to further integrate it. Looking at the money and resources in the Pacific, China, Russia, and India should come many steps forward to expand cooperation rather than isolating each other in a competing manner.
More looking at India’s natural resources and limitations, it would not be good that that India should be used for the “Indo-Pacific” as it is explained so far. Its close cooperation with China and Russia would help to be the part of the world order. Just isolated military relation in the paradigm of “Indo-Pacific” would not bring any concrete results.
The strategy would not help India to achieve a greet power status. India should avoid a subordinate position in the “Indo-Pacific”. Prime minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping meeting in April at the SCO summit in Beijing created hope for a BRI-led process rather than the “Indo-Pacific” strategy. Security at sea can become a new platform for China’s cooperation with India in the days to come.
China and India should strengthen ties and build mutual trust to foster relations. India is also blocked to keep away Japan and Australia from the Chinese main hold. Seeking a security cooperation will be a new idea between them which must be explored. Both India and China should learn about maritime cooperation with each other rather than confronting each other.
An equal partnership between China and India is necessary to frame a maritime framework between the two nations. Both nations should avoid developing ambitious objectives. India should recognise China’s emerging necessities in the South China Sea without holding other factors. Under the Belt and Road Initiative, China is also bringing its technology.
The Silk Road Economic Belt is creating infrastructure to link China overland with Europe and the Middle East, while the Maritime Silk Road is expanding Chinese ties throughout the Indian Ocean region. This needs to be carefully studied. Instead of competing for mutual interests in the Indo Pacific, China prefers to neutralise its influence in the region rather than strictly holing it.
Chinese approach toward the Indo Pacific would become a win-win for all nations. The United States, Japan, Australia, and India have strong trading relations with China and they will be not a position to overcome China rather than to negotiate with it. India alone could face a number of issues to become an exclusive power in the region. It’s close cooperation with China would be great step in fulfilling its maritime ambitious. A greater cooperation between China and India is thus required here.
The writer is Director of the China-Pakistan Study Center at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. He writes on East Asian affairs.