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Indo Pacific Risks Advisory 1/1




18  April 2024

 

High Impact Event

 

US, Japan, Philippines trilateral summit in Washington seen by China as an attempt to mobilise partners to contain Beijing’s  influence.

 

Diplomacy

 

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced a “new era of military cooperation” between the allies two during a summit in Washington and expressed intention to modernise their military command and control structure. President Biden referred to the military agreement as the “most significant” upgrade to their alliance. This comes as Australia, Britain, and the U.S. said they were considering working with Japan through their AUKUS security pact. Indian Foreign Secretary Kwatra during his visit from April 10 to 12, Kwatra undertook a detailed review of the progress made towards further consolidating the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership

 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned US' recent actions to advance the "Indo-Pacific Strategy" targeting China, as well as the country's wrongful [as per the Chinese] statements and actions in China's surrounding areas, especially its attempts to form a small clique with Japan and the Philippines and disrupt the situation in the South China Sea.   Chinese media called out the Summit as tailored with an intent to define China as a common threat.  Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu in a meeting with US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, and Sarah Beran, White House National Security Council's senior director for China affairs, in Beijing, China, on April 15, 2024  adopted a similar tone.

 

Military

 

US Defence secretary Lloyd Austin on April 16  spoke with his Chinese counterpart for the first time since November 2022. The two underlined importance of maintaining open lines of military to-military communication. The video conference was the maiden communication between Austin and Admiral Dong Jun, China's defence minister, who assumed charge in December last year.

 

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers that by bolstering the Indian military's capabilities, the nations can work together to uphold a more stable balance of power across the wider Indo-Pacific during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the annual budget of the Department of Defense.

 

The U.S. Army has deployed new Typhon midrange ground-based missile launcher to the Indo-Pacific region for the first time during joint military exercises in the northern Philippines. The launcher, is capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles and SM-6 missiles.

 

Britain will hold regular joint military exercises in the Indo-Pacific with the United States and Japan from 2025, seeking to boost security in the region, the British Ministry of Defence said on April 10. Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales would be deployed to the region as part of a group carrying out operations and exercises with allies, including a port visit in Japan, the Ministry of Defence said.

 

Risks and Impact

 

Overall geopolitical divide between the US and allies on one side and China on the other is expected to keep tensions boiling especially in the maritime sphere. China is likely to increase gray zone operations in the Indo Pacific region while attempting to expand on influence by strengthening strategic partnerships.

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