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USA’s Indo-Pacific Strategy

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: International Relations

 

Source: IE

Context: The geopolitical turmoil in Asia as a result of China’s rise will be a crucial background for the Indian PM’s discussions with the US President, as he travels to the US for a state visit.

 

US-China conflict:

  • The 20th edition of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) in Singapore highlighted the deepening tensions between the US and China.
  • Since its inception in 2002, the SLD has become the premium forum where defence ministers of Asia gather to publicly articulate their positions on regional security.

  

USA’s Indo-Pacific strategy:

  • Despite the continuing crises in the Middle East and a major war in Europe, Washington has repeatedly reaffirmed that the Indo-Pacific remains the highest priority.
  • Removing the Asian fear by explicitly challenging China’s claim to regional hegemony has been at the core of the US Indo-Pacific strategy.

  

 

 

USA approach towards China:

  • National actions include measures for control of technology exports to China and growing military support for Taiwan.
  • The US is mobilising a broad-based coalition to balance China. For example, it has drawn (the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada) into the grand regional coalition.
  • On the other hand, the US is resuming high-level talks on confidence-building measures to prevent the tensions from escalating.

 

China’s position:

  • China is unwilling to accept the US terms of engagement and sees USA’s persistent call for high-level dialogue as a trap.
  • China criticises the resurgent “cold war mentality” and demands that “mutual respect should prevail over bullying and hegemony”.

 

Where do Asian countries stand?

  • China has been grabbing disputed territories from its neighbours and it is the US that is offering help to defend territorial sovereignty in Asia.
  • Many Asian nations have stepped up political and military engagement [Quad, AUKUS, trilateral coordination with Seoul and Tokyo, a local quad (Australia, Japan, Philippines)] with the US despite Chinese warnings.
  • Yet, there is a reluctance in the region to jeopardise the deep economic relationship with Beijing and a deliberate effort to avoid politically offending China.

 

India and Japan in USA’s Strategy to Contain China:

  • Japan: The US has been encouraging Japan too –
    • Raise its military capabilities,
    • Modernising the military alliance with South Korea,
    • Revitalising military partnership with Manila and
    • Enhancing security cooperation with Indonesia.
  • India: Building a stronger strategic partnership with India has been a high priority for the Biden administration.
    • The shared interests in stabilising the Asian balance of power are objective realities demanding a solid India-US defence partnership.
    • Currently, both are in talks for a significant elevation of bilateral defence cooperation, including technology transfers and joint defence industrial production.

 

Conclusion:

  • The USA’s recent approach towards China is seen as an attempt to reverse the dominant perception that China’s domination of Asia is inevitable and America’s retreat is irreversible.
  • It is trying to build a ‘New Asia’, where a US-led coalition will be the real hegemon.

 

Insta Links:

India, America and the China Challenge

 

Mains Links:

“The USA is facing an existential threat in the form of China, that is much more challenging than the erstwhile Soviet Union.” Explain. (UPSC 2021)