From the first days of COVID-19’s appearance, China has been on a mission to control the narrative around. Even with the odds stacked against the dragon, it has not submitted yet and is using every possible weapon left in its arsenal to mitigate facing the wrath of the world. A post-COVID world will be an entirely different geopolitical landscape but there will be one similarity and that is China trying to assert dominance in the Indo-Pacific region. Known for his stubbornness, Xi Jinping has been eyeing the Indo-pacific region—one of the major economic corridors of Southeast Asia and the world for several years.
China’s misadventures in the South China Sea are well documented and the pace of its activities is only going to pick in the coming days with a faster chance in dynamics of the Indo-pacific region. Despite being under the pump at the moment, it is all but certain that China will come out slogging hard, and therefore being prepared in advance is crucial to India’s chances of emerging as a potential superpower in the region.
As the Wuhan virus pandemic stretches every country’s resources thin, Australia has come up with a proposal to India to stronghold the Indo-pacific region from any possible Chinese encroachment.
“We should build on last year’s successful trilateral maritime security workshop with Indonesia to identify new ways that our three countries can collaborate to be the best possible custodians of the Indian Ocean” said Barry O’Farrell, Australian High Commissioner-designate in an address to the National Defence College (NDC).
Explaining his point, the ambassador emphasized that the Indo-Pacific region would continue to be the engine of the global economy in the decades to come.
On the likely impact of the pandemic on the global and regional dynamics, he said it would take time to play out. “But I see a U.S. far more cautious about exercising global leadership than in the past. I see even faster shifts in the Indo-Pacific power balance, with an associated sharpening of strategic competition. And an even more factious multilateral system,” he stated.
With US all set to take a back seat after the country has been dealt a considerable setback due to the sky-rocketing Wuhan virus cases and New Delhi not impervious to the threat China poses to trade flows in the region—the reckoning has come to pull together multilateral alliances in the region to put China in its place.
Traditionally India, and as the UPA governments of earlier had it, the country did not use to exercise its muscles in the region but under PM Narendra Modi, India has slowly but gradually started making advances in the region.
In 2019, India had signed a memorandum of agreement to open a fully-fledged maritime route between Russia’s far-eastern port city and Chennai on India’s eastern seaboard, signaling rising Indian interest in the Western Pacific.
Numerous countries have been coming together to teach China a lesson. India, along with Japan, Australia, and the United States, is already engaged in challenging China in the Pacific Ocean region.
However, apart from this quad, other countries want an in–to increase their cooperation in the Indo-pacific region with India. In 2019, where France advised to form a new alliance with India and Australia, now Australia wants a new alliance with India and Indonesia.
If this becomes a reality in the foreseeable future, then these six countries together, viz. India, America, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, and France in the Indo-Pacific region, will be more than enough to keep Beijing and its scandalous intentions at bay.