Since the beginning of the 21st Century, the Indo-Pacific has become a significant geopolitical region. Indo-Pacific Region covers two oceanic regions; Indian and Pacific Oceans. Indo-Pacific is a region of geostrategic competition between the major powers, the United States and China. Since 2013, the term Indo-Pacific has been used increasingly in geopolitics and strategic studies.
Initially, the USA referred to this region as Asia-Pacific, however, this geopolitical term changed under former US President Trump. Currently, the Biden administration renamed the region as Indo-Pacific due to the shift in the US policy from the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific region.
The US policy/strategy is known as the “US Indo-Pacific Strategy”, a response to the increasing influence and power of China in the Indian Ocean Region through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as One Belt One Road (OBOR).
BRI is a modernized revival of the Chinese Silk Road that connects Asia with Africa to Europe by road and maritime routes to improve Chinese regional integration. BRI connects China with 66% of the world, expanding Chinese influence and power in the world both politically and economically.
US Vice President Kamala Harris visited Singapore on 24th August 2021 where she delivered a speech in which she strongly criticized China for its aggressive policies in the South China Sea (Western Pacific Ocean). She also highlighted the vision of the Biden administration for the Indo-Pacific region by stating that the United States would always support its partners in a region against China under the US policy of FOIP (Free and Open Indo-Pacific). FOIP is a part of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy. FOIP is a geostrategic policy proposed by the US to support its allies in the Indo-Pacific Region to counter the Chinese growing influence.
Furthermore, US alliance groups such as QUAD, AUKUS, and I2U2 are part of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy. QUAD consists of a group of four countries; India, the United States, Japan, and Australia, a strategic alliance of the US. AUKUS is comprised of Australia, the UK, and the US, in which the UK and US provide nuclear-propelled technologies like submarines to Australia. I2U2 is another strategic alliance of US partners in West Asia, which is constituted of India-Israel-UAE-US. I2U2 is also known as QUAD 2. The main objective of these alliances is to counter China’s expansionism in the Indo-Pacific Region.
Many think tanks highlighted that there is one reason for using the word “Indo” by the US in the Indo-Pacific term. It highlights India’s importance in dealing with China. India is a key strategic ally and the largest defense partner of the US in the Indian Ocean Region. The US made India a “net-security provider” in the Indian Ocean Region to contain China. India is ambitious to become a regional hegemon. India is encircled by the Chinese String of Pearls Strategy in the Indian Ocean Region. Indian Government claimed that the String of Pearls is a threat to Indian sovereignty in the Indian Ocean.
In response, India has adopted various counter strategies such as the Diamond of Necklace Strategy, Act East Policy, Look West Policy, India’s Neighborhood First Policy, and Double Fish Hook Strategy of India in the Indian Ocean Region to expand Indian maritime interests and to contain expansionist strategy of China.
China referred to the “Indo-Pacific Strategy” as a “Cold War Mentality” by the West. The expansion of BRICS and SCO is a clear example of the expansionism of China in a region.
Furthermore, the geostrategic partnership between the Eastern powers (Russia and China) is growing. The Russo-Sino increasing geostrategic ties in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, the ASEAN region, and East Asia, are reducing the US hegemony that shows the shifting geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific Region. It means that the US is losing its status of global leadership day by day, leading towards the multipolar world order. Thus, the strategic interests of Major Powers like China, Russia, and the US are tilted from the Euro-Atlantic towards Asia (Indo-Pacific), which shows that the century of Asia has begun.
Eman Malik is an MPhil Scholar. She has done her BA honors and MPhil in Political Science from Kinnaird College for Women University, Lahore. Her areas of expertise are Political Science, IR, Geopolitics and Strategic Studies. Email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org