US Secretary of State Michel R. Pompeo during his
speech at US Chamber of Commerce on 30th July 2018 thoroughly outlined
Trump’s administration new Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) Strategy. To keep
US influence alive all over the globe US policy makers keep her engaged with
important player states of every region through trade and defense pacts and activities.
The existence of American power and her influence in the region of Asia, Indian
Ocean and linked areas has always been remained an important priority for US
policy makers especially after the emergence of China as an important regional
economic and political player. To contain China’s growing influence in the
region USA in the past concluded an agreement with the name of Trans Pacific Partnership
(TTP) but later she withdrew her signature and so the agreement never ratified.
US Strategic Tilt Towards India
To contain China’s fast growing economy and political
influence in the region USA took first step in 2005 when the then President
George W. Bush signed an agreement with India, recognizing her as a nuclear
power state. Since then both countries through different agreements have come
too close and now we see that US policy makers by keeping India as an important
player have designed a new policy with name of Free and Open Indo Pacific (FOIP)
Strategy for Asia and surrounding Areas. FOIP Strategy is one of the latest
steps taken by America to block China’s growing influence in the region.
is FOIP Strategy?
As per Alex Wong, Deputy Assistant Secretary at East
Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau, US Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy is
focused on two modifiers, that is, free and open. By Free US policy makers mean
to keep and ensure the freedom of Indo-Pacific region states and of its people from
any kind of foreign coercion while following any social, political and economic
policy both at national and international level.
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Similarly according to Alex by Open USA means both
to keep sea lines of communication and airways open and also ensure greater
regional integration and economic growth through infrastructural
Other objectives of US Free and Open Indo-Pacific
Strategy, as per Alex Wong, are to ensure and promote more open trade and free and
fair investment opportunities in the region. But we know that USA for the past
seven decades apparently is doing so then what is the difference between FOIP
Strategy and past policies of USA?
Between FOIP And US Past Policies For The Region
There are two major differences between USA FOIP Strategy
and previous policies for Asia Pacific region.
First FOIP acknowledge the importance of South Asia
and in particularly of India in Pacific, East Asia and Southeast Asia region.
Implications Of US Indo Pacific Policy
Secondly it endorses India to play a key role in sociopolitical
and socioeconomic conditions of the region because as per US policy makers it is
in the best interest of both the region and USA.
Allegations Over China
The 2017 Trump’s National Security Strategy
described Indo-Pacific as a region where geopolitical competition is going on
between free and repressive version of world order and where China through its
economic inducement and penalties and implied military threats is forcing other
states of the region to heed to her political and security agenda.
are the objectives of FOIP strategy?
Though US FOIP Strategy apparently aims at the development
of peace and prosperity in the region but as per few political analysts there
are some hidden objectives of US behind FOIP Strategy as well which are;
US FOIP Strategy is openly directed at Beijing. She
considered the rise of undemocratic China a threat for the security of Asian
nations. USA no longer views China as a competitor and potential partner in the
Only China’s fast growing economic and political
power and influence in the region is not headache for US policy makers. The
resurgence of Russia too is a matter of serious concern for them. By empowering
India in the region, it is believed that US want to minimize the chances of flow
of total regional political power in the hands of two non-democratic states,
Russia and China.
In the name of Free and Open Indo Pacific Strategy
USA also wants to strengthen her military capabilities and increased her defense
grounds in the region against China.
Role in FOIP strategy
India seems willing to become a part of US FOIP
Strategy. Apparently she looks at it as an opportunity for modernization of
military and boosting her economy by gaining more access to US and western
economic markets. In this regard a Two plus Two (2 + 2) dialogue was held in
New Delhi in September 2018 in which from US side US Secretary of State Michel
R. Pmpeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis while from Indian side Indian
Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Indian Defense Minister Nirmala
Sitharaman met. After meeting Michel Pompeo said that “India and the
United States have a natural starting point for advancing a free and open
As per Prashanth Parameswaran, regarding US Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, globally there are three main areas of concern. These areas of concern include the real objective behind FOIP initiative, its implementation in real terms and the role of Southeast Asia and ASEAN states.