How far will US and US-Allies containment actions against China go in the Indo-Pacific?
September news analyzed by GGN revealed that actions by the United States and its closest Asian allies to contain China’s expansionism in the Indo-Pacific region continue.
1) India and Japan concluded their Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), agreement that shows strategic convergence between two major swing powers in the Indo Pacific region, with growing concerns about China.
2) India announced that project to support infrastructures plans in Maldives to compete with the China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
3) India and Vietnam signed an agreement to strengthen their strategic partnership.
4) Japan announced that plan to shore up relations with Vietnam and Indonesia, two key Southeast Asian partners with important positions in ASEAN.
5) Five Eyes alliance -US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand- make public their plan to include Japan as a member.
6) United States and Europe made known their plan to create an ‘Asian NATO’ of regional powers.
7) It was disclosed a plan to install a military base of United States in the Pacific nation of Palau.
8) United States signed a defense agreement (in consultation with India) with the Indian Ocean islands of the Maldives.
9) United States attempted to rally support from Washington’s closest allies in Asia -Japan, India and Australia– to strength their infrastructural initiatives as a countervailing measure against China’s Belt and Road Initiative influence.
10) There were attempts by United States to make top diplomats from Southeast Asia to cut ties with Chinese companies helping build islands in the South China Sea.
The results of United States and its closest allies in Asia efforts to contain China in the Indo Pacific region showed by September news are yet to be known.
The concrete thing is that the Indo-Pacific has become a new focal point of the US-China rivalry that will re-shape the strategic dynamics in the region.
Unlike United States, their closest allies does not view relations with China as a zero-sum game and, while allied with USA in countering China in security, would try to find ways to coexist with China in the economic sphere, even participating in the Belt and Road Initiative. China is the main economic partner for almost all Asian American allies, so is unlikely that they would break economic ties with it.
On the other hand, it is not clear how far the United States is ready to offer to its closest allies in Asia real alternatives that could compete with what China offers, especially with the BRI.
What is the strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific?
Indo-Pacific is at the centre of gravity of economic growth in the world. The three largest economies, the United States, China, and Japan are all located in the Indo-Pacific.
The Indo-Pacific has emerged as the hub of global trade and energy supply.
The two-third container trade of the world passes through this region. Around one third of global shipping passes through the South China Sea alone.
The two rising economies- India and China and Japan are dependent on Indo-Pacific sea routes for their trade and energy supply.
Two important maritime choke points- Bal al Mandeb and the Malacca Strait are located on the either side of the Indo-Pacific.
The region is also the home of more than 50 percent of the global population and rich in mineral and marine resources.
The Indo-Pacific includes the world’s most populous state (China), the most populous democracy (India) and the most populous Muslim-majority state (Indonesia).
Militarily, the Indo-Pacific is full of flashpoints that serve as potential sources of armed conflict: North Korea of Kim Jong; Taiwan’s pro-independent intentions; territorial and maritime disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
Seven of the ten largest standing armies in the world can be found in the Indo-Pacific.
International Relations Analyst/
Master in International Relations