US President Joe Biden’s administration released its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy. The document focuses on building collective capacity to deal with challenges in the region – China’s assertiveness, the pandemic and climate change, among others.
The strategy document said, the US will continue to support India’s rise and regional leadership, working with India bilaterally and through groups on a range of issues. It refers to India as a “like-minded partner” and “driving force” in the Quad.
The policies set out in the document have continuity with previous administrations’ strategies. These include a focus on challenges from China, advancing the U.S. relationship, a ‘Major Defense Partnership’ with India and supporting its role as a net security provider in the region. There is an emphasis on working with other countries not just from the region, but also from beyond.
The overall increasing focus of the U.S. on the region is due to its increasing challenges, especially from China, according to the strategy document.
More broadly, the US will seek an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, connected, prosperous, secure and resilient.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, a senior US administration official said that India’s role in the Quad was an important element of the US-India relationship, and a means to speak frankly about issues in the region, and to deliver together on public goods.
The Quad is rolling out a plan to deliver over a billion COVID-19 vaccines to the region by the end of this year.
The Indo-Pacific strategic report was released as part of the Quad Ministerial with foreign ministers of Australia, India, Japan and the US, yesterday. The ministers expressed concerns over the malign Chinese role in the region.
The report said that India faces significant geopolitical challenges from China and its behaviour on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The report added the Chinese coercion spans the globe, but it is most acute in the Indo-Pacific.
A senior White House official told news agency the condition of anonymity India faces very significant challenges.
China’s behaviour on the Line of Actual Control has had a galvanizing impact on India. From our standpoint, we see tremendous opportunities in working with another democracy – with a country that has a maritime tradition that understands the importance of the global commons – to advance critical issues in the region, he added.