Indo-Pacific is the New Geopolitical Reality

November 01, 2012

New Delhi: China’s interests in the Indian Ocean is bound to increase as India’s interest in the South China Sea grows, stated Dr C Raja Mohan, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), while reflecting upon the role of China in the sub continent’s Marine politics. For China, there is a contradiction between the heavy US presence in its neighbourhood, versus its rising defence capability, he added.

Dr. Raja Mohan was delivering valedictory address on the concluding day of the international seminar on ‘Maritime Dimensions of Power Game in Asia’ organised by the Ocean Policy Research Foundation (OPRF) Japan, Society for Indian Ocean Studies, National Maritime Foundation and the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), from October 31-Nov 1, 2012. The seminar was inaugurated by the Union Law Minister Shri Ashwani Kumar and Shri Pallam Raju Union Minister for Human Resource Development hosted a dinner for the participants.

The general agreement among the participants of the seminar was that Indo-Pacific is the new reality of the Asian Security Architecture. The former Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Shinzo Abe had initiated the idea of the confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans when he spoke at the Indian Parliament in August 2007. It was also felt that the India Japan security cooperation must be deepened.

Arguing that the conception of geopolitics is not fixed and it changes with the changing balance of power, Dr. Raja Mohan added that the Indo-Pacific Ocean is a new term and reflects the realities of contemporary Asian order. Even if geopolitics is dependent on geography, it is created based on imagination of the threat and opportunities.

Throwing light on the role of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Dr Mohan said that it is difficult to expect that UNCLOS will solve all the contestations as it has largely been interpreted by great powers to suit their specific national interests. On the other hand, regional institutions can not transcend the power politics behind in their regions, he insisted.

Speaking about Indo-Japan relations, Dr Raja Mohan said that both nations are the geopolitical cornerstones of the Indo-Pacific region and future dialogues can discuss issues of specific interest, including how to improve cooperation further.

Earlier in the day, Secretary East, MEA, Mr Sanjay Singh said that the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is crucial for creating security architecture in the region. Prosperity and development of the region is important, but peace and stability is required before that. He also dwelled on the expanding maritime cooperation in the region.

The key speakers included former Indian Navy chief and member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), Admiral (Retd.) Arun Prakash, Vice Admiral Premvir Das, Vice Admiral (Retd.) Mihir Roy, Prof. Masahiro Akiyama of OPRF and Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, Dr C Raja Mohan.