The Trump administration has rejected a report that describes the Indo-Pacific strategy, including “accelerating the rise of India”, “preventing China from establishing areas of influence” and “US strategic primacy” in the region. Includes maintaining, a copy viewed. By axios.
Why it matters: The strategy set out in a ten-page report written in early 2018 has guided the US approach to China, India, North Korea and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region over the past three years. Its release soon highlighted the political and security challenges that the Biden administration had inherited.
China is the primary state actor of concern Mentioned in the document, followed by North Korea. China’s growing influence abroad by seeking strategic alignment with allies and partners in the strategy, working to maintain a “liberal economic order” in the region, and “vaccining” the US and its allies against China’s intelligence activities The emphasis is on coping.
- The strategy also underscores a major expansion of military, intelligence and diplomatic support to India as a primary regional retaliation for China – an approach that is likely to raise eyebrows in Beijing and Islamabad.
What they are saying National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien wrote in a memo dated January 5, 2021, “The collapse of the framework today reflects, with transparency, America’s strategic commitments to Indo-Pacific and our allies and our allies in the region.” With the strategy document.
Breaking it: The Trump administration has noted several of its stated objectives about China over the past three years, including:
- The creation of an “international consensus” that harms the global trading system by China’s industrial policies and unfair trade practices
- Expanding American countermeasures and law enforcement to counter China’s intelligence activities in the US, and help them expand intelligence sharing with allies.
- Develop military and asymmetric warfare strategies to help Taiwan in a long-strained relationship with China.
- Strengthen national security reviews of Chinese investment in sensitive US regions
- “Work to prevent Chinese acquisition of military and strategic capabilities” by working with allies and partners.
Yes but: Some objectives were encountered.
- The strategy repeatedly calls for greater US engagement with countries in the region, particularly the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN). In some cases the US actually pulled back from the region, including Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the ASEAN Summit.
- The goal of demonstrating the benefits of American democratic values as a counterbalance to China in the region suffered a major setback with the recent armed rebellion in the US Capitol. Those events prompted the resignation of former Deputy National Security Matt Pottinger, one of the main authors of the strategy.
Of comment: India forms an important cornerstone of the aptly named Indo-Pacific Strategy.
- The document states that US aid and intelligence sharing should help India in key areas of conflict with China, including border disputes and water rights in the Himalayas. In 2020, India and China had their deadliest military skirmishes on the border since 1967.
- But the US-India relationship is complex. During the Cold War, India refused to make a place in the Western camp itself, instead opting for leadership in the Non-Aligned Movement. Meanwhile, the US, often India’s historic arch rival in South Asia, was inclined towards Pakistan.
Background: Beginning with its national security strategy in 2017, the Trump administration introduced a new official framework to see China and India as part of the same strategic region, the “Indo-Pacific”.
- In 2018 the US Pacific Command was renamed the Indo-Pacific Command, widely seen as a reaction to China’s rise.
Between the lines: Australia’s experience with China influenced the drafting of the 2018 Indo-Pacific Strategy.
- A senior US official told me, “In many ways they were ahead of the curve in understanding the impact and preventing interference in domestic systems.” “They were pioneers and we have to give a lot of credit to Australia.”
- The officer singled out former Australia senior intelligence adviser John Gernaut for the accolade, and said the 2017 report on Chinese influence operations by New Zealand scholar Anne-Marie Brady had also influenced US strategy.
Go in: State Department issues blueprint to counter China