"Indo-Pacific", originally a geographic concept that spans two regions of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, is not a new concept in itself. 10 years ago, Gurpreet s. Khurana, who used the word" Indo-Pacific Strategy" for the first time, was a marine strategist and executive director of the New Delhi National Marine Foundation. Recently, he wrote in the Washington Post that the new term has changed the new strategic mind map since China’s “reform and opening up” in the 1980s. “Asia Pacific” has shaped the image of a community of interests linking the United States and East Asia. The " Indo-Pacific " used by Trump means that India, the United States, and other major Asian democracies, especially Japan and Australia, will join in curbing China in the new framework of growing "Cold War" influence.
In recent years, the Indo-Pacific strategy and the Quad concept have been introduced and advocated by various countries at various points in time. Shinzo Abe held talks with Indian Prime Minister Modi and promoted the "Indo-Pacific Strategy" several times. On the one hand, he praised India's "Eastward Action" policy. On the other hand, he expressed the need to strengthen cooperation with India. The Trump’s visit to Japan formally called the “Indo-Pacific Strategy,” reflecting the US-Japan interest in this strategy.
Chinese scholars believe that the geopolitical changes brought about by China's rise are the main reason Washington is devoting efforts to boost Indo-Pacific alliances, and the Indo-Pacific strategy is intended to hedge against China’s foreign and security policy behaviour. On the other hand, many scholars also argue that Trump's Indo-Pacific strategy is an update of Obama's “rebalance.” Xue Li, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that the new strategy is needed because of the strategic culture and the need for balance of power in the United States.
As such, changes in the geopolitical environment in the Asia-Pacific region are the fundamental causes motivating the creation of the Indo-Pacific strategy. Against the backdrop of the relative weakening of the United States’ dominant position and the increasing shift of geopolitical and economic gravity to the Indo-Pacific, the aim is to reshape alliances and partnerships to respond to China’s rise.
An Analysis of Intentions and Interests of Countries under the "Indo-Pacific Strategy"
The United States
The United States is the leader of the " Indo-Pacific Strategy“. At present, the United States has put forward the "Indo-Pacific Strategy" which reflects the attention of the United States to the Indian Ocean region. Through its economic rise in recent years India has has become a leader among emerging economies. On the other hand, after the retreat of Obama's "Asia-Pacific rebalancing" strategy, the Asia-Pacific power structure involved corresponding adjustments. Allies in the Asia-Pacific region have been skeptical of Trump's foreign policies. This time, The objective why Trump returned to the "Indo-Pacific Strategy" is very clear——The "Indo-Pacific Strategy" is the expansion and revision of the "Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy." The purpose is to contain China's rise and safeguard U.S.l eadership in the region.
Japan, as an important ally of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region, plays an important role in the conception and promotion of the India Pacific. Apart from its own insecurities as an island nation, the reason that Japan is so clearly united with India and the United States is Japan’s vigilance against and concers about China’s rising economic and military capabilities.
India has always been a country with great national ambitions and is one of the most important advocates of the concept of " Indo-Pacific Strategy“. India can take this opportunity to promote the justification and rationalization of its interests in Southeast Asia; expand its presence in East Asia, strengthen its political, economic and military cooperation with the United States and its allies, and comprehensively increase India’s influence in international affairs.
Australia was one of the earliest countries to introduce the concept of “India”. In the 1960s, Australia discussed the exertion of its influence in the “India” region to avoid its own difficulties in the Cold War. Today, Australia actively welcomes the “Indo-Pacific” strategy promoted by the United States and emphasizes its important position in the United States’ “Indo-Pacific” strategy, not only because Australia wants to enhance US-Australia trade relations, but also it wants to improve its presence and scope of interest in Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asian Countries
We must pay attention to the responses of Southeast Asian countries to the "Indo-Pacific Strategy." To link the “Indian Ocean” with “Pacific Ocean”, Southeast Asia becomes a key area that cannot be bypassed. Indonesia and Singapore are also supporters of the "Indo-Pacific Strategy" concept. Due to the location advantages of Indonesia and Singapore themselves, the concept of “Indo-Pacific” will have the opportunity to enhance its strategic position. Small and medium-sized countries are caught between China and the United States. On the one hand, they are afraid of the regional order changes brought about by the rise of China. On the other hand, they do not want to lose their share of the dividends brought about by China's economic development.
The Space and Prospect of Realizing an Indo-Pacific Strategy
First, America's isolationist tendencies and policies in Asia are hampering the development of the new framework.
If the United States wants to build an "indo-pacific" system, whether it has enough strength and resources to shoulder this responsibility is also worth considering. The costs and responsibilities that are required to maintain the “India” system in military security, economic cooperation, etc., must be shared among its allies in Asia Pacific and India. This in itself poses a challenge to India and India.
Moreover, the "Indo-Pacific" strategy has made South Korea and Southeast Asian countries allies at a loss, emphasizing the "pillar of four countries" and ignoring the status and role of South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore and other countries in the framework.
All in all, the "Indo-Pacific Strategy" is still only an idea now. Its starting point is to establish a hedge against China’s economic and military rise and to reconstruct the regional order. The future effectiveness of the Indo-Pacific strategy is uncertain, not least as the United States, Japan, India and Australia have yet to improve coordinating and joint adoption of policies and strategies.