Getting back in business in the Indo-Pacific

  • IASbaba
  • August 5, 2021
  • 0
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  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Getting back in business in the Indo-Pacific

Context: US is strategically re-focusing, away from the 20 years of Afghanistan and Iraq and towards maritime Asia, where COVID-19, climate change and China are the compelling challenges.

The recent visits of top three officials of US to Indo-Pacific region reflects this sweeping change of US Diplomacy

  • Deputy Secretary of State (R. Sherman)
  • Secretary of Defense (Lloyd J. Austin III)
  • Secretary of State (Antony J. Blinken)

Analysis of Visit of Deputy Secretary of State (R. Sherman)

  • The visit covered not only Japan, South Korea and Mongolia but also China.
  • US reaffirmed its commitment to working with allies and partners for the promotion of peace and prosperity and upholding a ‘rules-based order’, the code word critical of China’s behaviour.
  • There was also trilateral meeting involving US, Japan and South Korea, perhaps in a bid to smoothen tensions afflicting the two east Asian neighbours.
  • The visit to China was to convey that the U.S. welcomed competition but did not seek confrontation with China. US also discussed forthrightly the dismal human rights situation in Xinjiang Province of China.

Analysis of Visit of Secretary of Defense (Lloyd J. Austin III)

  • His visit to three important ASEAN member-states — Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines — turned out to be the most productive in that it reiterated the necessity for a U.S. military presence in the region.
  • He listed China’s other objectionable actions, including “aggression against India”. And then he sent out the key signal to Beijing: “We will not flinch when our interests are threatened. Yet we do not seek confrontation.”
  • US asserted “Beijing’s claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea has no basis in international law”

Analysis of Visit of Secretary of State (Antony J. Blinken)

  • His trip to Delhi and Kuwait (July 26-29) drew attention for its positive outcomes.
  • The India visit was more in the nature of a consultative, confirmatory dialogue rather than one that results in signing of new agreements.
  • US repeated that the friendship with India is one of the closest that the U.S. has and the areas of convergence between the two nations are expanding while the areas of divergence are shrinking.
  • By clarifying that the Quad was not “a military alliance”, Mr Blinken defined the Quad as four like-minded countries “coming together to work collectively … on regional challenges, while reinforcing international rules and values”.

The Takeaways

  • Policy towards China & Indo-Pacific Interwined: First, that America’s China policy and the Rest of the Indo-Pacific policy will run in tandem, with inner consistency ensured by Mr. Biden.
  • Non-Confrontationist approach towards China: Second, Washington maintains a tough attitude towards Beijing, but it desires to keep the doors open for dialogue. The relationship with China is marked by three characteristics — adversarial, competitive and cooperative — and is likely to stay that way.
  • Integrated Deterrence: Third, the U.S. is willing to resist and counter China firmly, but with the full engagement of and contribution by the like-minded states of the region.
  • US resuming its Leadership role: U.S. is back and is willing to lead — but the region will have to seriously step up too and participate actively to maintain peace and prosperity.

Connecting the dots:

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