U.S. Declassified Its Indo-Pacific Strategy, Largely Focused On Containing China

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U.S. Declassified Its Indo-Pacific Strategy, Largely Focused On Containing China

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On January 13th, the US Indo-Pacific Strategy was revealed, in a newly-released document, which was declassified 30 years earlier than it should have been.

In early 2018 President Donald Trump endorsed a strategy for the Indo-Pacific developed by his National Security Council through the course of 2017.

The entire document, a national security briefing can be read here.

The document was previously classified “secret” and “not for foreign nationals”.

Over 10 partially redacted pages the document sets out the United States’ strategic priorities in the Indo-Pacific.

The document sets out the United States’ obvious intent to contain China.

“This strategic framework is very forthright on China — not quite confrontational but very firm,” Professor Medcalf said.

“It’s under no illusions about the nature of Chinese power or the assertive way in which China is using its power.”

The strategy commits to “devise and implement a defense strategy capable of, but not limited to: (1) denying China sustained air and sea dominance inside the ‘first island chain’ in a conflict; (2) defending the first island chain nations, including Taiwan; and (3) dominating all domains outside the first island chain”.

Its main objectives are:

  • Building an “international consensus that China’s industrial policies and unfair trading practices are damaging the global trading system”.
  • Expanding U.S. counterintelligence and law enforcement to counter China’s intelligence activities in the U.S., and expanding intelligence sharing with allies to help them do the same.
  • Developing military and asymmetric warfare strategies to help Taiwan in its long-standing, tense relationship with China.
  • Strengthening national security reviews of Chinese investments into sensitive U.S. sectors.
  • Working with allies and partners to try to “prevent Chinese acquisition of military and strategic capabilities.”

Additionally, the strategy repeatedly calls for greater U.S. engagement with countries in the region, in particular the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This largely failed.

The goal of showcasing the benefits of American democratic values as a counterbalance to China in the region also suffered a major blow with the recent storming of the US Capitol, and not only.

The document speaks of the need to “align our Indo-Pacific strategy with those of Australia, India and Japan”, of deepening trilateral cooperation with Japan and Australia, and a quadrilateral security relationship with India — all moves that have been made since that time.

Australia’s experience with China strongly influenced the drafting of the 2018 Indo-Pacific strategy.

“In many ways they were ahead of the curve in understanding influence operations and interference in domestic systems,” one senior U.S. official told Axios. “They were pioneers and we have to give a lot of credit to Australia.”

The US objective on India is to “accelerate India’s rise and capacity to serve as a net provider of security” by building “a stronger foundation for defense cooperation and interoperability; expand our defense trade and ability to transfer defense technology”, and to “offer support to India through diplomatic, military and intelligence channels — to help address continental challenges such as the border dispute with China”.

On North Korea, the document says the objective is to “convince the Kim regime that the only path to survival is to relinquish its nuclear power”.

This is also a point in which the US has largely failed since early 2018.

The report is, as expected, mostly focused on China, and the US has evidently been attempting to implement it, with varying degrees of success since it was adopted.

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