The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ is used to denote America’s new geopolitical view of Asia. For the U.S. administration, the policy for Indo-Pacific is key to its maintenance of supremacy in the global order. As Joe Biden assumes the presidential office of the U.S., there are varied implications for the whole world of which the Indo-Pacific region remains to be one of the main focuses. Biden claimed that “America is back” and suggested “major shifts” in approach regarding foreign policy issues. The U.S. appears to remain in the game of Indo-Pacific for a longer time. America’s policy towards the countries like India, China and Southeast Asian nations will be a decisive factor in determining the prospects and challenges of the Indo-Pacific region. Under the Biden administration, the U.S. is expected to have a robust military presence in the Indo-Pacific region and at the same time, it has pledged to have deeper ties with the nations in the region. Hence, it will be one of the major players in the geopolitical atmosphere of the region. Thus, it has become important for the Indo-Pacific regional nations to weigh in their prospects and challenges in the given situation to draw the best out of it.
As Joe Biden takes charge of the U.S. administration, all the eyes of the world are stuck at Biden’s actions on how he tackles China and mends the strained relations between the two nations. The tensions between the two nations have been a cause of concern for the whole world. The two countries have several issues acting as points of contention and these issues are aggravating the strain in the relation of the two nations further. Their tensions are halting many endeavors of the world community to find a solution to the burning global problems. The two countries are competing to be a global power and thus it cannot be considered anything other than a duel for global dominance. Hence, it becomes important to understand the implications of these strained relations in the short and long run and how India needs to play out in the given situation.
Last year’s crisis demonstrated the limitations and vulnerabilities of countries and multilateral institutions in dealing with global threats. With India and France enjoying similar aspirations and interests like in the areas of Indo-Pacific, climate change etc., both countries can cooperate towards multilateral rules-based world order. For this, both countries must work towards strengthening bilateral ties and proactively addressing common challenges plaguing the world.
India and the US have done away with one more layer of hesitations of history when they recently concluded the foundational agreements. The recent signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement introduces another era of cooperation and mutual trust between what experts call the natural partnership. In this backdrop, it is important to understand all the four foundational agreements and their significance in the current times.
With the coronavirus pandemic and the US-China trade tensions threatening the global supply chain, Japan had called for a tripartite Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI), with India and Australia as other two partners. The three countries have decided to launch the initiative to build resilient supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region later this year.
Asia-pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit of 2020 has still not been ruled out by the host country Malaysia as it said that the leader’s summit of APEC is still possible despite the pandemic. The next year’s host New Zealand has already said that it will use virtual platforms to conduct the meeting due to travel restrictions and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Already the 2018 Chile summit was canceled because of violent anti-government protests.
Quad Plus, which includes Quad countries along with South Korea, New Zealand and Vietnam, initiated weekly video conferences since March 20 to discuss the common issues pertaining to COVID-19 pandemic. These discussions have brought Quad back into focus as one of the important groupings in the Indo-Pacific. While the expansion of the alliance to ensure international cooperation to deal with this crisis a step in the right direction, the ultimate objective of countering China’s aggression has been put on the backburner though Beijing has increased its hostility in the South China Sea and Sino-Indian borders.
India’s importance in the Indian Ocean region and rising recognition of the same was once again highlighted recently when it joined the Indian Ocean Commission as an observer. India being a predominant force in the Indian Ocean, joining this important organization lends much required depth to SAGAR vision of PM Narendra Modi.
The Indian Ocean is the 3rd largest ocean in the world. Its geopolitical importance stems from vast and largely unexplored mineral deposits and also serving as shipping highway. It is surrounded by 51 countries representing 25% of the world’s landmass. In the post-COVID world, the world nations will have to step up efforts to make up for the lost economic grounds. For this, IORA is being regarded as one of the possible avenues for improving international ties- especially as its one of the low hanging fruits.