In 2022, India should keep an eye on Indo-Pacific

News: The year 2020 was transformational not just because of a pandemic, but because of massive geopolitical changes surrounding the Indo-Pacific. The region is central to emerging geopolitics and nine countries are the key players: the USA, China, Japan, India, Germany, UK, Russia, Australia and France.

How USA and China impact the Indo-Pacific region?

The most important relationship is that of the USA and China. China’s aggressive South East policy, aggression towards Taiwan and human rights violations in Xinjiang, subjugation of Hong Kong’s citizenry and assertive economic outreach and Indo Pacific will impact US-China relations.

Read here: Chinese Threat to Hong Kong’ Democracy

The Trump era was marked by hostility. On the other hand, President Joe Biden is building coalitions and alliances against China. While President Xi Jing ping has adopted a confrontational approach, as seen in repeated incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone and PLA’s adventures in eastern Ladakh.

What is the role of various groupings in Indo-Pacific?

Quad is the most important group for strategic partners, The USA, India, Japan and Australia. Military groupings like an AUKUS (Australia, UK, US) have also emerged.

European Union announced its Indo-Pacific strategy, which is aimed at increasing its economic and security profile in the region. The policy needs to be more strategic and less mercantilist, more candid and assertive with China, and more cooperative with partners like India.

ASEAN is facing Chinese pressure and aggression. Its unity is under stress. President Biden’s meeting with ASEAN members can help in bringing a sense of security.

BRICS – given India China’s hostility, a visit of the Indian Prime Minister to China is an unlikely prospect to solve any purpose.

G7 – to be held in Germany will have to assess the progress made by the “build back better world “initiative.

G20-to be held in Indonesia will test the depth of Indonesian diplomacy.

What more can be done by Japan?

Japan needs to announce a bold national security strategy. It should double its defence budget. It should make an effort to amend article 9 and expand military cooperation with the USA.

What should be India’s strategy on India-Pacific?

First, it should strengthen the Quad and fulfil its commitment to deliver 1 billion vaccine doses to Indo-Pacific nations.

Second, it should strengthen its relationship with Russia.

Third, enhance its cooperation with key Southeast Asian partners like Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand.

Fourth, Higher engagement towards Indian Ocean island states. This can be done through a clear economic and trade agenda and incentivizing corporate India to make inroads in this region.

While India has done well in fulfilling its humanitarian duties during the pandemic, it should learn to convert these into economic and strategic opportunities in 2022.

Source: This post is based on the article “In 2022, India should keep an eye on Indo-Pacific” published in the Indian Express  on 15th January 2022.

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