The latest edition of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, which brought together the world’s leading defense officials and security experts June 1 through 3, marked the formal inauguration of the “Indo-Pacific” era.
Read commentary and analysis from the top AMTI experts on maritime Asia.
If the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy only serves as a facet of Sino-U.S. competition, the United States will have to overcome China’s advantages in geographic distance, economic wherewithal, and policy continuity. If it serves as a strategy to cultivate agreed-upon norms and principles applied to all parties, big or small, then it may enjoy greater support. Whichever case, seven key issues merit careful consideration while they can have the greatest impact.
Maritime security in the Indian Ocean requires much more than ships, weapons, and sailors. Assets at sea and in the air must be integrated with significant land-based infrastructure. China appreciates this fact. Apparently, the United States and India either do not, or they lack the will or means to match the Chinese.
As China continues to expand its military presence in disputed areas of the South China Sea, Vietnam has sought to balance Beijing’s activities through a combination of deft defense diplomacy and sensible military modernization. On the latter point, analysts have spilled much ink in recent years assessing the Vietnam People’s Army’s (VPA) procurement or indigenous development of specific weapon systems. Yet comparatively little has been written on the thought process behind acquisition of these new capabilities, and whether Vietnam has a military doctrine or concept of operations in place to effectively guide their employment in future South China Sea conflicts.
To ask Taipei to accept the political risks of taking a position on the U-shaped line—especially one more in line with the legal positions of other South China Sea claimants than with those of China—without access to any of the mechanisms to manage the disputes is unfair.
The U.S.-Japan alliance needs to take urgent measures to ensure that its deterrent posture and defensive capabilities in the East China Sea remain intact in the years ahead. Zack Cooper offers suggestions on China's likeliest strategies and how U.S. and Japanese policymakers should face them.
Sri Lanka's proposed code of conduct for the Indian Ocean presents problems at many levels, but perhaps the deepest problem is that it is about regional geopolitics rather than human security threats.
The Philippines and China recently agreed to pursue joint development agreements on hydrocarbon deposits in the South China Sea, but before those agreements can come to fruition there are a number of hurdles and historical precedents to overcome.