Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The Indo-Pacific opportunity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AUKUS

Mains level : Paper 2- Indo-Pacific challenge

Context

The geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific, which is changing fast. As it moves into 2022, the region will carry the imprint of the past five years, and will have to chart a course through inter-state tensions and crises, using both diplomacy and military preparedness.

What will shape the geopolitics and geoeconomics of the Indo-Pacific?

  • Key players in the region: The region is central to world economy and peace, and nine countries are key players: the US, China, Japan, India, Germany, the UK, Russia, Australia and France.
  • The geopolitics and geo-economics of the Indo-Pacific will be largely shaped by the interplay of relations among these nations.
  • US-China relations: Of paramount importance is the US-China equation.
  • Expect this relationship to be marked by continually adversarial, competitive and cooperative traits.
  • Beijing’s south/east China policy, aggressive postures towards Taiwan, human rights violations in Xinjiang, the subjugation of Hong Kong’s citizenry and assertive economic outreach in the Indo-Pacific — these will weigh heavily on US-China relations.

A significant role of groupings and individual nations

  • In this standoff, the role of new groupings and individual nations is significant.
  • Role of Quad: Foremost are the Quad, a strategic partnership between the US, India, Japan and Australia and the militaristic AUKUS (Australia, UK, US). 
  • India-Australia ties: Meanwhile, India and Australia are on track to deepen ties, not only bilaterally but also with the other two Quad powers.
  • The next Quad summit, probably hosted by Japan, will cement the grouping.
  • EU’s role: The EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy, announced last September, aims at increasing its economic and security profile in, and linkages with, the region.
  • UK’s role: Only by being more strategic and less mercantilist, more candid and assertive with China, and more cooperative with partners such as India, can the EU — and its former member the UK — hope to become vital players in the Indo-Pacific.
  • ASEAN, located in the middle of the Indo-Pacific waters, faces the heat of China’s aggression and the sharpening great power rivalry.
  •  It must enhance its realism and shed its tendency of wishing away problems.

Suggestions for India

  • 1]Strengthen the Quad – especially by ensuring that the grouping fulfils its commitment to deliver at least one billion vaccine doses to Indo-Pacific nations by December 2022.
  • India must protect its established relationship with Russia, and show some resilience in dialogue with Beijing.
  • 2] Enhance relations with ASEAN nations: It must enhance cooperation with key Southeast Asian partners —Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand — while humouring ASEAN as a grouping.
  • 3] Give attention to African and Indian Ocean island states: The eastern and southern planks of Africa and the Indian Ocean island states need continued high policy attention and financial resources.
  • A clear economic and trade agenda to follow the flag in this vital region, is certain to yield long-term dividends.

Consider the question “Indo-Pacific will present India strategic and economic opportunities that India must not miss. However, the region will have to chart a course through inter-state tensions and crises. Comment.”

Conclusion

India has done well by fulfilling its humanitarian duties during the pandemic. Learning how to convert them smartly into economic and strategic opportunities in its periphery is the focused task for the nation in 2022.

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