The International security landscape is undergoing significant changes and appears to be in a period of transition towards a new global order. This transition is marked by growing strategic competition among the US, China, & Russia, as indicated by the US National Security Strategy’s (NSS-22) designation of China as a strategic competitor and Russia as an immediate threat. The US side perceives China as a potential threat to its hegemony and sphere of influence due to its rapid economic growth. To restrict China, the US side is working to restore its security leadership role in the Indo-Pacific by strengthening its alliances with the ocean-going maritime democracies, building new partnerships with Pacific island nations, and reinvigorating the Quad.
The US has increased its footprints in the Indo-Pacific in recognition of the fact that it is the most dynamic region in the world.
The US has increased its footprints in the Indo-Pacific in recognition of the fact that it is the most dynamic region in the world. It is regarded as an economic powerhouse with the potential to affect the future of people residing in different parts of the world over the next century. The US has a vision for the Indo-Pacific region. It wants to see it as a free, open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient area. To achieve that goal requires forging connections between the Indo-Pacific in the East and Euro-Atlantic in the West in order to leverage European interests in the region. This is part of the motivation for the new Australia, UK, and US partnership (AUKUS) to make this vision a reality. Moreover, the US Indo-Pacific strategy is clearly aimed at countering China’s economic growth & calls for investments in democratic institutions & civil society, promoting free trade and maintaining peace & stability across the Taiwan Strait. Apart from that, it also emphasizes aligning with like-minded partners to compete effectively with China and other countries that favor authoritarian systems over democratic systems.
The Bush administration in the mid-2000s launched a significant shift in US military, economic, and diplomatic strategy towards Asia with the goal of managing, rather than containing, China’s rise. This was achieved through a combination of internal and external balancing measures, aimed at expanding the collective power of the US and its allies and partners to discourage China from pursuing hegemony. The Obama administration continued this initiative under the ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy, which has guided the US policy in the region. The Trump administration further emphasized the importance of Asia in the US foreign policy by introducing the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ concept, which sought to strengthen ties with India as a counterbalance to China.
The Biden Administration has ushered in a new era of strategic partnership and commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, as evidenced by key initiatives such as the revival of Quad, AUKUS, and Pacific Partnership strategy. These efforts aim to establish a security partnership to counter the perceived Chinese threat, secure an open and free Indo-Pacific, and deter coercion. Additionally, the administration has prioritized engagement with the ASEAN bloc to expand its sphere of influence, and has introduced the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) as part of a broader strategy to maintain a balance of power against China. Analysts have noted that while this strategy is logical and compelling, effectively implementing it will prove to be a formidable challenge. This approach builds on the recognition of the importance of Asia, a focus that previous administration has also placed on strengthening alliances and working collectively to bring greater security and prosperity in the region.
The Quad is seen as a direct challenge to China and its assertiveness in the region, with the goal of managing China’s rise and fostering friendly relations with ASEAN countries.
Recent developments in the Indo-Pacific region indicate that the US, under the Biden administration, is taking steps to counteract China’s growing influence. One key aspect of this strategy is the revival of Quad, an informal security alliance comprising democratic nations such as Japan, Australia, India, and the US. The Quad is seen as a direct challenge to China and its assertiveness in the region, with the goal of managing China’s rise and fostering friendly relations with ASEAN countries. The Quad is also aimed at deterring the use of coercive practices in resolving territorial and political disputes, such as Taiwan, South China Sea (SCS), and East China Sea (ECS). Additionally, the Quad serves as a platform for diplomatic consultation, military cooperation, information exchange, and economic integration. President Biden has expressed concerns about the threat posed by China’s security apparatus, and his approach emphasizes working through multilateral institutions, as demonstrated by multiple Quad summits.
It is important to note that any conflict in the region will be having a detrimental effect on cooperative mechanisms in the region. Therefore, communication and cooperation are key in addressing the challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, instead of resorting to quasi-security groupings.
The US side is currently playing a significant security leadership role in the Indo-Pacific region. However, China views this role as a challenge to its own interests and aims to neutralize any anti-China bloc in the region. It has accused the US of stoking tensions and has advised the US to adopt a more cooperative approach, rather than indulging in a new Cold War. China has also urged the US to look beyond its narrow political agendas and has proposed the path of peaceful development. Furthermore, it has denounced the US efforts to impose its will on the Asian region. It is important to note that any conflict in the region will be having a detrimental effect on cooperative mechanisms in the region. Therefore, communication and cooperation are key in addressing the challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, instead of resorting to quasi-security groupings.
Muhammad Abubaker is an independent Research Analyst based in Islamabad. He is currently pursuing M.phil in Strategic Studies from National Defense University (NDU), Islamabad.
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