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  • 17 March, 2021

  • 12 Min Read

U.K. turns to Indo – Pacific in post-Brexit foreign policy

The U.K. turns to Indo – Pacific in post-Brexit foreign policy

What is Indo Pacific?

  • The term Indo Pacific was first time used by Shinzo Abe in Japan in 2007.
  • The “Indo-Pacific” idea was originally conceived in 2006- 07.
  • One of the reasons behind the popularity of this term is an understanding that the Indian Ocean and the Pacific are linked strategic theatres.
  • Also, the centre of gravity has shifted to Asia. The reason is maritime routes, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific provide the sea lanes. The majority of the world’s trade passes through these oceans.
  • There was a time before the cold war when the centre of gravity of the universe was across the Atlantic i.e. trade was actually transiting from the Atlantic but now it has shifted.
  • The earlier term used to be Asia-Pacific, from which India was excluded.
  • This term was prevalent during the cold war time.
  • The shift to the term ‘Indo-Pacific’ shows the salience of India in the new construct.
  • Terrorism and the fear of assertion by a particular country in the region are major threats to the Indo-Pacific region.

What are the regions under the Indo-Pacific region?

  • The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ combines the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Western Pacific Region (WP) – inclusive of the contiguous seas off East Asia and Southeast Asia – into a singular regional construct.
  • The Indo-Pacific region includes the world’s four big economies: the USA, China, Japan and India.
  • The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ is interpreted differently by different stakeholders.
  • India considers the region as an inclusive, open, integrated and balanced space.
  • India continuously emphasises strategic inter-connections, common challenges and opportunities between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.
  • The U.S. considers it to be a free and open Indo-Pacific, highlighting the importance of rules or norms of conduct in the region, thus trying to contain the role of China in the region.
  • The ASEAN countries look at Indo-Pacific as a consociational model, thus bringing in China not only for the sake of giving it some stakeholdership but looking for ways to cooperate with it in the region.
  • Britain wants to expand its influence among countries in the Indo-Pacific region to try to moderate China’s global dominance, a document laying out post-Brexit foreign and defence policy priorities said on Tuesday.
  • The document sets out a planned increase of Britain’s nuclear warhead stockpile by more than 40% to weigh against evolving global security threats, and underlines the importance of strong ties with the U.S. while naming Russia as the top regional threat.
  • Britain’s biggest foreign and defence policy review since the end of the Cold War sets out how Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to be at the forefront of a reinvigorated, rules-based international order based on cooperation and free trade.
  • Calling the Indo-Pacific “increasingly the geopolitical centre of the world”, the government highlighted a planned British aircraft carrier deployment to the region.
  • “China and the U.K. both benefit from bilateral trade and investment, but China also presents the biggest state-based threat to the U.K.’s economic security,” the report said.
  • Britain, the world’s sixth-largest economy, is dwarfed economically and militarily by China, but believes through soft power and strategic alliances it can help persuade Beijing to play by the rules of a new, more dynamic international system.
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the U.K.’s attempts to influence Beijing had been marginal so far, saying it was better to act “in concert with clusters of like-minded countries... to have the maximum and moderating impact on China.”

Significance of Indo-Pacific for India

  1. Natural resources, Market potential, Northeast States, Blue Economy aspirations, Freedom of navigation, counter China.
  2. It will provide the role of a Net security provider and security architecture.
  3. Help in Act East Asia Policy, multilateral groupings, the role of ports.
  4. This is a shift from Asia-Pacific (including Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania) where India was included as in APEC. India is still outside APEC.

India’s Vision for Indo-Pacific in the Shangri La Dialogue

  1. India embraced the concept of Indo-Pacific and said India stands for a free, open, inclusive region.
  2. It includes all nations in this geography as also others beyond who have a stake in it.
  3. Southeast Asia is at its Centre. And ASEAN is central to its future.
  4. Evolve, through dialogue, a common rules-based order for the region. These rules and norms should be based on the consent of all, not on the power of the few.
  5. Rather than growing protectionism, India seeks a level playing field for all. India stands for an open and stable international trade regime.
  6. Connectivity is vital and India is doing its part, by itself and in partnership with others like Japan – in South Asia and Southeast Asia, in the Indian Ocean, Africa, West Asia and beyond.
  7. India’s view can be summarized into five S in Hindi: Samman (respect); Samvad (dialogue); Sahyog (cooperation), Shanti (peace), and Samridhi (prosperity).

India's role in Indo Pacific: India's goal is to

  1. Seek a climate of trust and transparency.
  2. Respect for international maritime rules and norms by all the countries.
  3. Sensitivity to each other's interests.
  4. Peaceful resolution of maritime security issues.
  5. Increase in maritime cooperation.

India's Initiatives

  1. Defence Exercises, Strategic Partnership with countries.
  2. Forum of India-Pacific Islands Cooperation.
  3. Asia- Africa Growth Corridor.
  4. SAGAR Approach and Project MAUSAM.
  5. Quad-plus- where India, Japan, Australia, U.S. and countries of ASEAN are collaborating.

Source: TH

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