In this study, the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the U.S. announced in February 2022 will be interpreted. We suggest our readers to read this study after examining the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the U.S. annexed in references.
The U.S. defines the region between North Pacific Ocean, Pacific coastline of the U.S., South Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean as the Indo-Pacific, and sees itself as a power belonging to this region.
The U.S., referring to the struggle for sovereignty against Japan in the Indo-Pacific during the World War II, thinks that it’s security can only be possible if the Indo-Pacific region is shaped in accordance with the interests of the U.S.
The U.S. states that China has being increased its effectiveness in the Indo-Pacific with economic, diplomatic, technological and military activities. At his point, the U.S. acknowledges that a new power, for the first time emerged in the region after World War II, could have possibility to challenge him. The U.S. declares that China’s activities are not for the benefit of the U.S. and its allies, therefore, it will focus on every corner of the region in the coming period.
In the strategy document; It is claimed that the aim of the U.S. is not to change the Chinese regime by entering into ideological polarization as happened in the Cold War period, but to try to establish a balance by jointly responding to the challenges arising from China, together with the allies. Thus, it is understood that the capacity reached by China is also accepted by the U.S.
In its Strategy document, the U.S. states that its interests are common with its closest allies and partners. The U.S. emphasizes that it has deepened its alliance through regional agreements with Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand. In addition, the U.S. states that it has strengthened its relations with regional partners, including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Pacific islands. This attitude shows that the U.S. is trying to take advantage of every opportunity to build a joint capacity against China.
In its Strategy document, the U.S. states that it will act together not only with the countries within the region in the Indo-Pacific, but also with the European Union (EU), primarily with the United Kingdom and France, and expresses that NATO’s interest in the region has increased. It also highlights that the U.S. will act together in the region with ASEAN, a regional international organization, and security formations such as QUAD and AUKUS. China is not included in all three structures (Please find a brief information about these structures at the end of the study).
The U.S. claims that China is putting pressure on the countries of the region, and the seas and the sky cannot be used freely by the countries of the region within the framework of the rules of International Law. At this point, it is noteworthy that the U.S., in its Strategy document, mentioned the South China Sea and the East China Sea, which China claims sovereignty over, and claimed that these regions should be used in accordance with international rules.
The U.S., by declaring that it supports a strong India as a partner in the region, sees India as a balancing power against China in the region.
The U.S. emphasizes that the alliances, organizations and rules which it helped to establish with its partners should be compatible with each other, and highlights the importance of updating them together if required. The U.S. envisages that the capacity to be created will be harmonious and continuous. This situation shows that the U.S.-China confrontation will spread over the long term.
While the United States expresses its commitment to the “one China” policy, on the other hand, it also produces policy regarding the future of Taiwan, although China claims that Taiwan is a part of China. Expressing that an environment will be created in which the Taiwanese people will freely determine their future, the U.S. follows an unclear policy towards China, regarding the most sensitive issue in Chinese foreign policy.
As a conclusion;
-The Indo-Pacific Strategy of the U.S. specifically targets China and North Korea.
-The U.S. mobilizes intra-regional, non-regional countries and international organizations against China in the Indo-Pacific.
-The U.S. is grouping the countries of the region against China with the alliance relations it has established and trying to surround China especially from the sea.
-In Strategy document, by claiming NATO, a defense organization, has increased interest in the region, it is implied that NATO can be used in the Indo-Pacific if necessary. In this regard, it is stated that the U.S. is ready to deter and, defeat any aggression against itself and its allies.
With the Indo-Pacific Strategy, the U.S. declares that it has entered into a long-term, comprehensive struggle with China. It will not be misleading to state that the 21st century will be shaped by the China-U.S. confrontation. It is possible that China, whose sustainable growth depends on uninterrupted energy flow, may encounter some problems in the Strait of Malacca and Taiwan, including energy transportation by sea. In such an international environment, this question cannot be replied very easily: Can China’s “Belt and Road Project” be implemented without any interruption?
Brief information about ASEAN, QUAD and AUKUS
ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations): It was established in 1967. Member countries: Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. It aims at economic growth, social and cultural development. ASEAN tries to develop relations between the countries of the region on the basis of justice and the rule of law (asean.org).
QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue): It is a group formed by the U.S., Australia, India and Japan. The cooperation in the maritime field, which was initiated after the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, has been developed over time. The countries that make up the group have focused on strengthening relations in the field of security and economy against the rise of China. The first joint exercise between the parties was held in 2020 (Smith, 2021).
AUKUS: Strategic Defense Treaty formed by Australia, United Kingdom and the U.S. The collaboration started with the aim of producing a class of submarine that would run on nuclear power. The rise of China in the region was evaluated as a threat, therefore the parties aimed to create a joint capacity in the region. Thus, for the first time, the U.S. shared nuclear propulsion technology with an ally apart from the United Kingdom. (Wintour, 2021).
Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States, The White House, Washington February 2022.
Smith, S.A. (May 27, 2021). The Quad in the Indo-Pacific: What to Know