Home Contact Us  
   

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4917, 5 October 2015
 

East Asia Compass

India-Japan-US Trilateral: India’s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
Sandip Kumar Mishra
Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Studies, Delhi University
 

In an interesting first, the foreign ministers of India, Japan and the US had a trilateral dialogue on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on 29 September 2015. The foreign ministers underlined the strategic convergence of their interests in the Indo-Pacific region, specifically mentioning peaceful settlement of disputes, freedom of navigation and over flight, and unimpeded commerce in the region, along with the creation of a rule-based regional order. In another interesting twist, the leaders talked about the centrality of the ASEAN and the significance of the East Asia Summit in dealing with the key political and security issues of the region.

Although the dialogue does not name China, it undoubtedly points toward it, of which Beijing is certain to take note. India has avoided, for some time, its participation in any trilateral or multilateral dialogue that Beijing views as a target against itself, and it was probably for the same reason that the India-Japan-South Korea track 1.5 annual meeting was not able to continue after its first meeting in 2012. India has also been reluctant to make its annual Exercise Malabar a multilateral naval exercise targeted against China. Thus, this is an important shift in India’s policy for the Indo-Pacific, a glimpse of which was shown when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his first state visit outside South Asia to Japan and that too for a five days. During his visit, Modi openly expressed India’s stand against any ‘expansionist’ state in the region. The shift is getting more obvious with India taking more specific steps to be part of an alliance that includes the US, Japan and Australia.

Being part of a multilateral network to create disincentives against China’s assertiveness may be the right choice for India. However, India should be careful when seeking to secure its interests through these arrangements. It would not be prudent to join Japan or the US who are articulating a confrontationist approach in their dealings with China. India should rather steer Japan and the US to adopt New Delhi’s approach to deal with China, which has been more nuanced and constructive. India’s approach in the trilateral dialogue with Japan and the US must be informed by this subtle understanding, otherwise India could become a pawn in the big power rivalry in the Indo-Pacific.

India should also try to make this platform wide and open. There cannot be any proper justification in leaving South Korea out of such a dialogue. South Korea, which is quite similar to India, has a multifaceted policy vis-à-vis China and its inclusion in the dialogue would have given more strength to the Indian position. Similarly, since the foreign ministers mentioned ASEAN and the East Asia Summit, it would have been better if a few representations from Southeast Asia had also been there. India must realise that rather than getting caught in great power politics, which is essentially a contest for dominance by one or another, the future of the Indo-Pacific would be more peaceful and prosperous if and when middle powers take centre-stage. Such a possibility in the changing landscape of the Indo-Pacific is not utopian; it can be realised, and India should try to articulate this option to further its national interests.

It seems that the Indian policy for the Indo-Pacific is focused around the big players such as the US, Japan and China. The approach does not capture the complex realities of the regional politics. A more detailed role for the middle must be understood and pursued in India’s scheme of things. India’s growing stature and role in the Indo-Pacific would not be determined only by the way it deals with the big players of the region but also by the way New Delhi connects with the middle powers of the region.

It seems that India has failed under the current foreign policy establishment to have a more detailed and interconnected foreign policy for the region. India needs to consider all important bilateral relationships in the region and try to devise a mechanism to coordinate among these in the fulfillment of its national interests. For example, India upgraded its bilateral relations with South Korea to a ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ during Modi’s visit to Seoul in May 2015. However, India’s growing unconditional support and proximity with Shinzo Abe would definitely put limitations on India-South Korea relations. Similarly, the much-publicised participation of the Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju in North Korea’s Independence Day celebration in New Delhi is also likely to raise suspicions in South Korea.

Thus far, it seems that the foreign policy establishment in India under the new government is not able to completely decipher the complex diplomatic scenario of the Indo-Pacific region and has either been following the designs of the big players or making confused moves. Otherwise, how should one understand a trilateral dialogue with Japan and the US that talks about ASEAN’s centrality without any participation from the region? India needs to look beyond easy rhetoric and options and formulate a more informed foreign policy for the Indo-Pacific that is centered on its own national interests.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
India and the Koreas: Promises and Follow-ups

South Korea-North Korea: A New Version of Engagement

Trump’s North Korea Policy: Regional Implications

Park Geun-hye's Impeachment and South Korean Foreign Policy

US Tactical Nukes in the Korean Peninsula?

Forecast 2017: East Asia

Japan-China Contestation in 2017

Donald Trump and East Asia

PM Modi’s Visit to Japan: Prospects and Prudence

Future of the TPP and the US' Pivot to Asia

Russia’s Overtures in East Asia

China’s Game on North Korea

Six-Party Talks 2.0: Not for Denuclearisation but for Peace

Deadlock at Shangri-La: Is There a Way Forward?

North Korea’s 7th Party Congress: Context and Content

Japan’s New Security Laws: Context and Implications

What is the Efficacy of Sanctions on North Korea?

‘Brilliant’ Comrade: The Design in North Korean Madness

Forecast 2016: East Asia on the Cusp

Japan-South Korea: Resolving the Comfort Women Issue

China’s Maritime Assertiveness and Repercussions

China-Japan-South Korea: A New Beginning?

China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia

Many ‘Pivots to Asia’: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?

On the 10th Anniversary of the East Asian Summit

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.