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Indo Pacific Risk Advisory 2/2024




A comprehensive review of events - diplomatic, military, economic and their impact in the Indo Pacific

 

Diplomacy

 

Describing China as “a significant partner in tackling global challenges,” the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Communique on April 19 expressed readiness to collaborate with Beijing on matters of mutual concern. The statement also stated that the policy stances of the G7 are not aimed at undermining China’s economic advancement, but rather seek to ensure adherence to international standards and norms.

 

Batting for enhanced cooperation between India and the ASEAN countries, External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar on April 23 highlighted that the two sides, through greater collaboration, can play a major role in the emerging regional architecture of the Indo-Pacific. “The synergy between India’s Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and the ASEAN outlook on Indo Pacific (AOIP).. provides a strong framework for cooperation, including and addressing challenges to comprehensive security,” he added.

 

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, has said that Jakarta and Beijing have agreed upon strengthening cooperation and bilateral relations during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Jakarta on April 18.

 

Military

 

China is challenging Japan’s latest analysis of the threat posed to the Indo-Pacific region by Beijing as a hyped-up threat and false accusation as indicated in the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s annual Diplomatic Bluebook that was published on April 16. The Bluebook reportedly condemns China's actions in the South China Sea and its attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Sea.

 

The U.S. military on April 22 confirmed it had on April 11 placed a mid-range capability missile system on northern Luzon in the Philippines as part of joint military exercises called Salaknib 24.  The Army deployed the newest Typhon launcher, a land-based system that can fire various missiles, including the SM-6 supersonic missile, with a range of about 450 kilometers, and the Tomahawk cruise missile, with a maximum range of 2,500 kilometers.

China PLA Navy held a symposium of naval officials from around the globe in Qingdao, hosted by the Chinese Navy.

 

South China Sea

 

Military

 

Filipino and American troops commenced joint military exercises in the Philippines on April 22, as Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the region raises fears of a conflict.  The joint drills involve a simulation of an armed recapture of an island in Palawan province, the nearest major Philippine land mass to the hotly disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The same exercise will be held in the northern provinces of Cagayan and Batanes, both less than 300km from Taiwan.

 

On April 22, 2024, Prime Minister Kishida received a courtesy call from Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, at the Prime Minister’s Office.  Meanwhile the US states that the Pacific portion of the bill has largely received unanimous bipartisan support as authorization for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI).

 

Taiwan

 

Military

 

A bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill providing funds to the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan, on April 20. The Indo-Pacific Supplemental Appropriations Act will send $8.1 billion to Taiwan and other allies in the Indo-Pacific region. The four-bill package also includes a measure that imposes new limits on the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.

 

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defence (MND) has announced that it has detected 21 Chinese military aircraft and seven naval vessels around Taiwan between 6 am on April  20 and 6 am on April 19. 14 crossed the Taiwan Strait median line, adding that three entered the southwest corner of Taiwan's Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) and two were detected in the northeast ADIZ. In response, Taiwan sent aircraft and naval ships and deployed air defence missile systems to monitor the PLA activity, as per Taiwan News.

China opened two new air routes, with flight paths near two outlying islands controlled by Taiwan in a latest move in a broad campaign Beijing has rolled out ahead of the inauguration of Taiwan’s president-elect, Lai Ching-te.  In a statement on April 19, China’s civil aviation regulator announced it had started using two west-to-east flight paths from the coastal cities of Xiamen and Fuzhou. The new air routes, known as W122 and W123, will connect to what is called the M503 air route

 

Disaster

 

Taiwan was hit by 80 earthquakes, strongest of 6.3 magnitude, centred on the largely rural eastern county of Hualien, where on April 3 at least 14 people died after a 7.2 magnitude quake.

 

Risk and Impact

 

Contestations between the US and Partners and China is expected to continue in the Indo Pacific as both sides are determined to sustain a coalition as a set of countries to mark their influence in the zone. Corresponding military build up is also anticipated with the United States now attempting to match China’s modernization as the $ 8.1 billion approval by the US Congress will add to US armed forces and allies in enhancing their capabilities in diverse spheres. China’s grey zone campaign as a part of the cognitive warfare and economic coercion against Taiwan is also expected to continue and may heighten ahead of the inauguration of the Chinese President Lai Ching-te.

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