The whole world is going through a fundamental change and with this change the dictionary of the world is changing, in which new words are constantly being added on the basis of need and importance. A similar term is ‘Indo-Pacific’ which has played an important role in shaping the geo-strategy of many economies of the world in the last few years. Today, all countries around the world are interpreting ‘Indo-Pacific’ as required in their respective documents. Geographically, the part of the ocean that combines the Indian Ocean and some parts of the Pacific Ocean is known as the Indo-Pacific Area.
Strategic importance of Indo-Pacific region
- The Indo-Pacific region has become geopolitically a new stage of diplomacy and conflict between the various world powers in recent years.
- Also, the region has become more important due to its location.
- Currently 75 percent of world trade is imported and exported from this region and the ports connected with the Indo-Pacific region are among the busiest ports in the world.
- 60 per cent of world GDP is contributed by this region. The region remains sensitive to both consumer and producer nations regarding energy trade (petroleum products).
- It is known that the Indo-Pacific region comprises a total of 38 countries, which constitute 44 percent of the world’s surface area and 65 percent of the world’s total population.
- Experts believe that the region has all the necessary components to create regional trade and investment opportunities that benefit consumers.
- Some recent events indicate strong geo-economic competition in the region, including the world’s fastest growing economies, rising military spending and naval capabilities, fierce competition over natural resources.
- Thus, the key to global security and the new world order lies in the hands of the Indo-Pacific region.
- An important area under it is the South China Sea. There is a constant dispute between the country of ASEAN and China. Another important area is the Strait of Malacca. Situated near Indonesia, this strait is strategically and commercially important.
Policy of various countries towards Indo-Pacific region
The Trump administration has publicly acknowledged the importance of India-Japan relations to make the Indo-Pacific region a ‘free and independent’ region. Trump’s Indo-Pacific policy is a new form of his predecessor Obama’s Asia-centric policy. According to one estimate, China will become the world’s largest economy, outpacing the US by 2027, a situation that may cause concern for the US. Indonesia has also emerged as an economically strong country and is exploring its important role in the region. Also, he does not want to be part of the FOIP (Free and Open Indo-pacific) of America and BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) of China. At the same time, Indonesia is not such a large economic power that it can play an important role in this field on its own strength. It may be noted that Indonesia is a major member country of the ASEAN Organization. Therefore, by making the role of this organization important for the Indo-Pacific region, it is trying to enhance its interest. China is also investing heavily on infrastructure and connectivity in various countries of the world through its ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative to transform itself into a world power. It is well known that his initiative also aims to establish his dominance in the Indo-Pacific region. For example China is the major stakeholder of Pakistan’s Gwadar Port and recently the Government of Sri Lanka has sold Hambantota Port to China. In addition, Japan has invested heavily in the Indo-Pacific, especially in India’s northeast coastal region. It is noteworthy that the King and Queen of Japan also visited Tamil Nadu when they visited India for the first time, as Tamil Nadu is believed to be the major state where Japanese investment is highest.
India and the Indo-Pacific region
- The Indo-Pacific region has always been very important for India, experts believe that the main reason for this is the maritime trade from this region.
- Apart from this, India also participates in many naval exercises with countries like USA, ASEAN, Japan, Korea and Vietnam to strengthen its military power.
- ONGC Videsh Limited is exploring oil and gas potential in Vietnam’s Special Economic Zone. It is important that India imports 82 percent of its oil. Oil should be taken from wherever India can get oil. Therefore, the South China Sea can prove to be very important for the discovery of oil.
- The United States (USA), India and Japan are working together to finance permanent infrastructure projects that are critical to the development of the region.
- The Indo-Pacific region was a major topic of discussion during the Japan-India-US (JAI) trilateral meeting held on the occasion of the G20 Summit 2019.
- Keeping in view the special importance of this region, India has also established an Indo-Pacific Wing in the Ministry of External Affairs in April 2019.
- Many of India’s special partners, such as the US, Australia, Japan and Indonesia, actually see the Indo-Pacific region as ‘Asia Pacific Plus India’.
- The main objective of this type of policy is to establish India as a major force to counter China in the South China Sea and East China Sea.
- However, India’s policy towards the region emphasizes greater peace. In India’s policy, it is defined as a free, open and inclusive area.
- India recognizes the region from the coast of Africa to the coast of America as the Indo-Pacific region.
- Unlike China, India has always been a champion of a unified ASEAN. Experts believe that China has used the policy of ‘divide and rule’ in ASEAN.
- Earlier this area was seen as an American lake, where America was heavily dominated but due to the changes in recent years there has been increased fear that this area will not be converted into a Chinese lake. Lets do it.
- India does not want the dominance of any one country in the region, due to which it is trying to ensure that China does not dominate the region through trilateral groups like India-Australia-France and India-Australia-Indonesia. Ho.
- China has always been a major threat to the Asian-Pacific countries, besides it is also posing a threat to Indian interests in the Indian Ocean region.
- China has seized Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port, a few hundred miles from India’s shores. This situation is obviously very worrisome for India, although the new Sri Lankan President had said in a recent statement that giving Hambantota port to China was the biggest mistake of the previous government.
- China is providing military equipment such as submarines and warships etc. to India’s neighboring countries – Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand. Experts are defining this situation as military colonialism.
- Some ASEAN member countries remain a major threat to ASEAN solidarity under China’s influence. It is well known that China is the largest trading partner of ASEAN and ASEAN countries cannot bypass it under any circumstances, it is possible that this equation of ASEAN and China will affect the relations between India and ASEAN.
- ASEAN is considered very important for India especially from the point of view of Act East policy.
- The Quad is recognized as a shared objective of the four countries to secure an ‘independent, open and prosperous’ Indo-Pacific region.
- The Quad is a joint informal strategic dialogue between India, the United States, Japan and Australia. The quad conference was also organized during the 13th East Asia Summit. This quad conference was mainly focused on infrastructure projects and maritime security plans in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Although the stated goal of the group relates to the prosperity and openness of the Indo-Pacific region, its main goal is to control Chinese dominance in the Indo-Pacific region through the Belt Road initiative.
- It is noteworthy that China through its OBOR is trying to establish its sovereignty over other small countries including the Indo-Pacific.
- It is essential that India should try to manage its relations with China despite various challenges, so as to ensure as much peace as possible in the Indo-Pacific region. Apart from this, the smooth relationship between Japan and India will also be a key component for the stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific region and the cornerstone of India’s Act East Policy.
- The upcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Japan is expected to give a new direction to the relations between the two countries.
- India does not have to make a choice between the ASEAN-focused development agenda and the quad-focused security agenda at this time. It is necessary that both are seen simultaneously.
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