Discussion on ‘India’s Security Concerns in the Indo-Pacific’
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On 9th April 2018, The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) held a round table discussion on India’s security concerns in the Indo-Pacific. The panelists were Ambassador Rajiv Sikri, Ambassador Kanwal Sibal and Captain Gurpreet Khurana.

Ambassador Anil Wadhwa, senior Fellow, VIF, began the session with the developments of the Quadrilateral (QUAD) Security Dialogue (QSD) and the fundamental basis of cooperation between the Quad countries, ranging from imperatives of freedom of navigation and overflight over vital trade routes, the importance of ensuring international rule of law and addressing common non-traditional security issues in the region. The areas of cooperation of the Quad countries were identified to be in infrastructure, cyber security, maritime security and strengthening global value chains in the region. Though the Quadrilateral is not a military alliance, the perception of the forum as a hedging security architecture by countries in the region was also acknowledged, with an emphasis to keep the QSD resistant to external pressures on its dismantling.

Ambassador Sibal explored the idea of the Indo-Pacific and the China factor in regional deliberations. It was pointed out that the increasing military assertiveness of China has raised regional concerns of the nature of its rise and its impact on regional stability. Militarisation of the Indian Ocean by external players, ranging from the Diego Garcia base of USA to China’s military constructions in South Asia and the South China Sea was also brought to attention.

The geo-economic dimension of the Indo-Pacific was also illustrated by Captain Khurana. It was commented that the stability of the maritime order was held to be essential by the regional players, and that the ASEAN response has been mixed. This was evident by the lack of consensus in concluding a code of conduct which reflected in its security posture in the region. The increasing need to strengthen regional organisations such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) was also highlighted.

Discussions revolved around the differing perceptions of threats as well as cooperation with China, and as to how India should balance its security considerations in the emerging Asian Century. Moreover, information-sharing was highlighted as a core area of convergence among the Quad countries. It was opined that the structure of the QSD should be flexible, to accommodate the varying security compulsions of the member states as well as expansion of membership to include Indonesia.

The event concluded with deliberations on whether India should be a net security provider in the Indo-Pacific and the extent of its involvement in strategic engagements in the Indo-Pacific.

Event Date: 
April 9, 2018