Nurture and enrich the seas, said PM Abe


Institute of South Asian Studies.

In a bid to contain China in Asian waters, Japan and the United States persuasively got India into the Indo-Pacific region, according to a book “India’s Eastward Engagement: From Antiquity to Act East Policy”.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led the approach during his 2007 visit to New Delhi when he addressed the Indian parliament on needs of Indo-Pacific while the US underlined its importance for global trade and commerce.

Explaining the new need for bringing the Indian and the Pacific Oceans into one geostrategic space of Indo-Pacific, Abe told Indian Parliamentarians “…nurture and enrich these seas of clearest transparence… That is why I stand before you now in the Central Hall of the highest chamber, to speak with you, the people’s representatives of India.”

There was an attempt to see the Pacific (especially Western Pacific) with the Indian Ocean linked as one region by the inclusion of South Asia, particularly India, as one strategic theatre, wrote co-authors of the book, Professor S. D. Muni is Professor Emeritus at the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, and Rahul Mishra, a Senior Lecturer at the Asia-Europe Institute of the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.

In the US official articulation of the ‘pivot policy’, the concept of ‘Indo-Pacific’ was first used by Secretary (Hillary) Clinton in 2010 as an imperative of the emerging geostrategic reality of the region, noted the authors.

Explaining ‘America’s Engagement in the Asia-Pacific’ at Honolulu on 28 Oct 2010, Clinton said: “Our military presence must evolve to reflect an evolving world.”

“…And we are expanding our work with the Indian navy in the Pacific, because we understand how important the Indo-Pacific basin is to the global trade and commerce,” Clinton was quoted as having said.

The Indo-Pacific concept has gradually been integrated into US strategic thinking. It has found a place in the America First National Security Strategy (NSS) announced by the (President Donald) Trump administration in December 2017, wrote the co-authors.

Under the regional pillar of the strategy document, it is said: “A geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order is taking place in the Indo-Pacific region.

The region, which stretches from the west coast of India to the western shores of the United States, represents the most populous and economically dynamic part of the world.

Accordingly, territorial and maritime limits of the Indo-Pacific region are defined here, and India is given an important place as a strategic partner in the implementation of the strategy.

But the Indo-Pacific concept has not found any favour with China, according to the book.

There has not been any strong official reaction but the academic and strategic debate in China has not endorsed the concept, wrote the authors.

“They (the Chinese) see it as a vague, still undeveloped and at best a negative concept that aims at containing China’s rise,” said the 329-page book.

The 329-page book was launched by the Institute of South Asian Studies, a think tank in the National University of Singapore, on 17 April 2019.


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