[Answered]“Growing Chinese presence in Indo-Pacific region demands a proactive Indian foreign policy.” Comment.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual introduction.

Body. Discuss increasing presence of China in Indo-Pacific. How India should tackle Chinese dominance?

Conclusion. Way forward.

The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ has gained currency as a new construct in recent times. The Indo-Pacific provides a geographic and strategic expanse, with the two oceans being linked together by the ten ASEAN countries. Security in the region is a must through dialogue to ensure a common rules-based order, freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce in accordance with international law. India supports a rules-based, balanced, and stable trade environment in the Indo- Pacific region. Sustainable connectivity initiatives promoting mutual benefit should be continually fostered.

Chinese threat and increasing presence:

  1. The Chinese regime claims that it has historical ownership over nearly the entire region, which gives it the right to manufacture islands, declare defensive perimeters around its artificial islands, and to chase ships from other nations out of the South China Sea. The International Court of Arbitration rejected the claim in 2016.
  2. China considers disputes in the South China Sea as territorial disputes and therefore considers that UNCLOS does not have a locus standi to pass judgement over disputes.
  3. China’s increasingly active presence in the Indian Ocean region as well as its efforts to expand geopolitical reach in Asia and beyond by the use of trade and military Demand rule based order to secure India’s interests and free trade. In the present time, the control of sea lanes and ports would be the game.

How India should tackle Chinese dominance?

  1. It is important to adhere to freedom of navigation, adherence to rules-based order and stable trade environment. Also for free sea and air lanes, connectivity and upholding international rules and norms. India should proactively support this stance at multinational platforms.
  2. India should focus on the link between Indo-China border area and the East China Sea. It is important for India to cooperate with Japan and the US to deal with Chinese front. Japan and the US are willing to support India’s efforts to modernize its defence in the Indo-China border area.
  3. Japan, the US and Australia should share the know-how related with anti-submarine capabilities and enhance India’s military preparedness.
  4. Furthermore, developing infrastructure in other countries of the region is useful too. E.g. the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), a result of Indo-Japanese cooperation, will counter China’s growing influence in Africa.
  5. India needs to have maritime alliances like Quad (India, Australia, the US and Japan) with different countries including US to protect its interests in the South China Sea without provoking China.
  6. Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) is necessary for Indo-Pacific security. MDA implies effective understanding of any activity associated with the maritime environment that could impact upon the security, safety, economy or environment.
  7. Strong naval capabilities, multilateral diplomacy, economic integration with nations is necessary for India to meet the challenges within the Indo-Pacific region. India needs to stick to its vision of the Indian Ocean i.e. SAGAR- Security and Growth for All in the Region.

The Indo-Pacific region is highly heterogeneous in terms of economic size and level of development, with significant differences in security establishments and resources. India has been an active participant in mechanisms like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), the East Asia Summit, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defence Ministers Meeting Plus. Maintaining the delicate balance between the interests of all stakeholders will be a key challenge. Thus, India needs to carefully design its Indo-Pacific policy while keeping its long-term strategic and economic interests in mind.

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