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The White House has declassified the United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific, a document which has provided strategic guidance for implementing the 2017 National Security Strategy in the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.
The US states that the most consequential challenge to the interests of the United States, and those of our allies and partners, is the growing rivalry between free and repressive visions of the future.
The framework recognises that Beijing is increasingly pressuring Indo-Pacific nations to subordinate their freedom and sovereignty to a “common destiny” envisioned by the Chinese Communist Party.
The Framework calls to enhance U.S. engagement in the region while also educating governments, businesses, universities, Chinese overseas students, news media, and general citizens about China’s coercive behavior and influence operations around the globe.
The US says that the Framework seeks to strengthen the US’ wide and diverse network of allies and partners, which has long underwritten stability and peace in the Indo-Pacific.
The Framework states that “A strong India, in cooperation with like-minded countries, would act as a counterbalance to China” as it maintains the capacity to counter border provocations by China, it states.
However, the US framework grants itself the leadership role given its “history of fighting back against repressive regimes”. The Framework clearly works on the principles of how the US can maintain its strategic primacy in the Indo-Pacific region, albeit in the name of countering China.
It is for India to decide if it will just tag along with the US as a pawn in its game or emerge stronger in the region as a global player with its own strategic framework in which other democratic countries find a place.
India has to deepen its ties with the ASEAN and Pacific countries on its own strengths and in mutual interests. India has the advantage of its centuries old cultural ties with many of these countries. Strengthening of the IORA will be a step in this direction.
The world has seen what the US has done and can do to countries where it has intervened on the pretext of ‘restoring democracy’! The Indo-Pacific countries will decide what’s best for them and work out relations and solve issues on their own terms.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “The present form of the RCEP Agreement does not fully reflect the basic spirit and the agreed guiding principles of RCEP. It also does not address satisfactorily India’s outstanding issues and concerns. In such a situation, it is not possible for India to join the RCEP agreement.”