Indo-Pacific Issues

It is said that the future strategic scenarios will increasingly focus on the Indo-Pacific littorals and India must prepare for them more proactively, with maritime security interests acting in concert with diplomacy. In the light of the statement, examine the reasons for this shift in focus on Indo-Pacific region and how should India deal with this shift. (200 Words)

As world trade has increased, the importance of Sea Lines of Communications (SLOC) has also increased. The resource hungry nations have now moved to the oceans to satisfy their needs. Thus, the importance of Indo-Pacific littorals has increased in a strategic sense due to the following reasons
  1. US’s pivot to Asia – In order to counter China’s rise, the US is rebalancing its foreign policy and giving more importance to Asia. That has increased the importance of Indo-Pacific region.
  2. Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) – TPP is a major Free Trade Agreement backed by the US which will bind the region in a tight economic embrace.
  3. Sea Lines of Communications – This region contains very important SLOCs which have a direct bearing on the economic security of many nations. SLOCs through which nearly 55% of Indian trade passes through. This makes it strategically imperative for us to safeguard our maritime interests.
  4. South China Sea Resources – There are indications of presence of hydrocarbon assets in the South China Sea Region. This increases the importance of this region manifold. China’s increasing assertiveness in SCS will not only devoid us of mineral (oil etc.), marine, rare earth metals and other resources ( important for energy and food security) but China’s naval/military presence in SCS will reduce our strategic edge in our backyard (IOR).
  5. China’s ‘Blue Water’ Ambitions – In order to stake claim to disputed area of the South China Sea as well as safeguard its SLOCs, China has rapidly expanded its navy. This poses a strategic threat to India and other littorals in the region.
  6. In the wake of slowing down of EU and U.S economy (especially after 2008 recession),focus has shifted towards Indo-pacific littorals as it houses many of the world’s biggest economies and largest markets.
In order to deal with the shift in the world’s focus on the region, India can take the following steps –
  1. Joint naval exercises with other major powers in the region like Australia, Japan etc. Strengthen naval co-operation with littorals (specially Australia ,Japan, Australia, Singapore) and U.S Malabar joint exercise is a case in point.
  2. Strategic engagement with China in the region, balanced with the “strategic plus” partnership with the US.
  3. Strengthening relationship especially economically with the Indo-Pacific littoral states.
Critically discuss the objectives of the Forum for India Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) and its significance to India’s geopolitical interests. (200 Words)
The forum for India pacific islands cooperation is a multinational group developed in 2014 for cooperation between India and 14 pacific islands.
The main objectives of the FIPIC are to strengthen trade and strategic bilateral relationships of India with the pacific islands. Significance of the FIPIC for India are:
  1. It will help India to harness resources of pacific islands for agricultural, fishery, oil and natural gas, mining, information technology, and will help in the growth of healthcare centres.
  2. It would help to cater to the needs of the Indian diaspora living in the Pacific islands.
  3. It will help to address the issues of climate change and use of renewable energy like solar energy, weather forecasting, use of science and technology
  4. The pacific islands can also support India to gain the permanent seat in the united nation security council.
  5. It will boost trade and commerce.
  6. It is most important relationship of India under the Act East Policy and will help to fulfil India growing demand of marine resources.
Although FIPIC is geopolitically significant for India but there are some obstacles to this—-
Firstly pacific islands are also strategically important for China and with the help of Maritime Silk road China would also want to keep strong ties with these resource rich islands which can put constraints and affect the ties of these islands with India.
Secondly the Pacific islands may look forward to USA for a strategic partnership to boost their economies as well as geopolitical interests which can act as a hurdle for India’s interest in these islands.
Nevertheless, India will have an upper hand in these islands which will protect India’s interest by fostering support and cooperation which will be fruitful in the long run of India’s foreign policy.
It is argued that a strategic framework involving India, Japan and Australia is fast evolving in the Indo-Pacific region. Critically analyse the objectives and significance of this framework. (200 Words)
In the past couple of years, we have witnessed a growing convergence of interests of India, Japan and Australia. Past month, the 3 foreign ministers met each other to discuss their common interests.
  1. Curb China,s aggressive outlook: on the account of new found china’s aggression in the south and east china sea and also in indian ocean, China’s establishment of ADIZ in the south and east china sea, its claim on the Senkaku islands, Spratley, fishing (permits) regulations in Hainnan province. Its opposition to India’s presence in Vietnam oil blocks in south china sea, its growing clout in the Indian ocean, its string of pearls, Its proposed Maritime silk route, Its establishment of listening posts in Seychelles, presence at hambantota, embassy at Maldives.
  2. It is also a concern for Australia as china using its deep pockets to finance cheap loans for pacific countries around Australia. (China’s unilateral decision in 2013 to extend its “air defence identification zone” (ADIZ) over the contested maritime area in the East China Sea overlapping with the already existing Japanese one to announcing new fishing regulations for Hainan province in January 2014 to ensure that all foreign vessels need fishing permits from Hainan authorities in more than half of South China Sea. China’s land reclamation work in the Spratly Islands )
  3. Revitalise maritime trade ties and defence cooperation to gain foothold in Indian ocean and East China sea.
  1. Will help in securing SLOC of all the nations in both the South china sea and the indian ocean.
  2. Will help in tackling threats like piracy, arms trade, drug trafficking, natural disasters like tsunami. Annual exercises like JIMEX, Malabar with japan has helped curbing such threats. (Japan will also be a part of bilateral India-US annual naval exercises—the Malabar—slated to be held over the next few months)
  3. Will help in tackling illegal migration through sea.
  4. Also will help in capacity building of all three navies through joint naval exercises.
  5. Might help India in gaining membership of TPP.
  6. Will help india in securing india’s nuclear interests since a continuous association might help in gaining Japanese waiver for signing NPT for nuclear reactors
Thus cooperation of these 3 nations is essential for them to ensure healthy economic growth and develop a regional dominance in the Indo-pacific region.
Critically analyse how India will be benefited by forming a joint forum with Australia and Japan. Do you think formation of this forum is necessitated by the threat of raising China? Critically comment. (200 Words)
Closer security ties, joint naval exercise and military relationship are on the top agenda on Japan-Australia-India joint forum.
  1. All this countries are heavily dependent on south china sea lanes for their trade. so to secure their trade route these forum will take necessary steps.
  2. Artificial island that china is creating in disputed marine areas in south china sea will also be on top agenda.
  3. Huge quality of hydrocarbon reserve in south china sea has generated anxiety in these nations.
  4. Joint military exercises and deeper security engagements will amplify India’s defence capabilities vis a vis China in IO region.
  5. All three nations can jointly help in capacity building and training of defence forces of South East Asian nations. This will help them defy any arm twisting measures by China in south China sea and facilitate more Indian presence in trade and investments in the region.
  6. Cooperation in security issues like piracy, cyber security, counter terrorism
  7. All the three countries support reforms in UNSC and support India’s membership in UNSC
  8. International cooperation at other forums like UN, ASEAN, APEC, G20 and EAS can also deepen.
Though India was initially reluctant to be part of any such forum as it was against it Non Alignment movement. But India considered south china sea water as international water and India supports freedom of navigation and access to resources in south china sea in accordance with the principal of international law UNCLOS.
India joined this forum to secure its international trade and energy routes as these routes cannot be leaved on goodwill of Chinese navy. India also does not want to lose its exploration of oil and gas in south china sea.



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