The majority of international relations experts are certain that the sea lanes will be the scene of a new Cold War.
It is a geopolitical idea that gained formality when a communiqué was released in 2022 following the NATO Summit and issued the first-ever warning against China. New battle lines are being formed as a result of NATO’s expansion and its increased focus on China. On June 29–30, 2022, NATO leaders assembled in Madrid, Spain to discuss pressing concerns affecting the Alliance. The Alliance’s strategic orientation for the future was determined by critical decisions that were made, guaranteeing that the Alliance would continue to adapt to a changing world. The previous strategic concept, adopted in 2010, has been replaced with a new security reality that differs in form. The 2022 Strategic Concept incorporates additional issues, including climate change, terrorism, cyber, and hybrid threats as well, and names Russia as the threat that poses the greatest threat to Allied security. It also mentions China for the first time. President Biden has referred to the mega-militarization of Europe as the “NATO-ization of Europe,” and it is believed that Russian aggression is the primary reason for this development.
The creation of a new “Great Game” at sea, where increasing navalism threatens to further destabilise the larger Indo-Pacific and beyond, can be seen in the ever-expanding naval drills and basing sites across the shipping lanes.
Global powers including the United States, China, Australia, India, Japan, and the UK are interested in the Indo-Pacific since it unites the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean into one area. In interstate relations, the pursuit of maritime dominance has remained a requirement for acquiring power. Both conflict and cooperative tendencies are present in the so-called New Cold War.
In terms of global political significance, the Atlantic Ocean can be viewed as the ocean of our grandparents and parents; the Pacific Ocean as the ocean of us and our children; and the Indian Ocean as the ocean of our children and grandchildren, according to Craig Jeffrey, Director and CEO of the Australia-India Institute. The Indo-Pacific region has become an integrated geopolitical construct with significant geopolitical opportunities as well as security challenges as a result of the shift in the global economic centre of gravity toward the Asian continent and the relationship between geo-economics and the ocean realm.
The rising prominence of India is a key tenet of the Indo-Pacific concept. The Indo in the Indo-Pacific represents the Indian Ocean, not India.
The phrase “Indo-Pacific” was first used in the context of the strategic and geopolitical debate in 2008 by Gurpreet S. Khurana, a maritime strategist and executive director of the National Maritime Foundation in India. He went into further detail about it in an article, claiming that the phrase has altered since China’s reforms and opening up in the 1980s. The connecting area between the Indian and Pacific oceans is generally referred to as the Indo-Pacific region.
The Indo-Pacific, a region of 24 nations encompassing the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Oceans, and the seas linking the two in the approximate area of Indonesia, stretches from the west coast of the United States to the west coast of India. The Indo-Pacific is a framework that aims to establish a linked multipolar area that must be managed by generally accepted international standards, laws, and customs. But it’s frequently viewed through a very securitized perspective. The Asia-Pacific area has traditionally been referred to by Washington as such, but under Trump, the “strategic vocabulary” changed.
The idea of a community of interests between the United States and East Asia was developed by the Asia-Pacific region. On the other hand, Trump’s use of the term “Indo-Pacific” indicates that key Asian democracies, including Japan and Australia, as well as the United States, will work together to restrain China within the new context of its expanding Cold War dominance. In keeping with the US foreign policy reaction to China’s expanding influence, the Biden administration also keeps the region’s name ‘Indo-Pacific’.
The rivalry between Beijing and Washington continues to shape the area. The conflict between the US and China is described by Biden as “the competition of the future.” The US government has also referred to the conflict with China as the greatest geopolitical test of the century, particularly in light of its worries over Beijing’s increasing challenges and dangers to US interests in the Indo-Pacific area. “I believe that when the history of the 21st century is written, much of it will be centred right here in the Indo-Pacific,” Kamala Harris said, summarising it.
Biden believed that to meet the challenge posed by China, the entire government must work together, including with bipartisan collaboration in Congress and solid alliances and partnerships. By creating a global front in opposition to Trump’s unilateral strategy to confront China, he intends to take a harsh approach to handle ties with China.
Intriguingly, there appears to be a rethinking in the United States, which is now dealing with a 40-year high inflation rate of 8.6 per cent as food, gasoline, and housing costs rise. The government of President Joe Biden is considering removing certain tariffs on China. The U.S. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, stated that the tariffs on China that President Biden was considering reducing to reduce inflation had “no strategic purpose” and were left over from the administration of the previous President Donald Trump.
Due to China’s strong military and economic presence in the Indo-Pacific Region, the US cannot afford to detach from China since it would likely surpass the US in the Indian and Pacific Oceans during the next 20 years. Geopolitical and economic supply networks are intertwined much too deeply to be reversed. A confrontation between Beijing, Washington, and New Delhi is not an option; instead, they should collaborate or compete.
The so-called “tripolar great game” between Beijing, Washington, and New Delhi is being played out in Pakistan, and it may also be the setting for the start of a new Cold War. However, the strategic rivalry is not between nations on the battlefield, but rather in fields like technology, global governance, and economics. In its idea of the Indo-Pacific area, the United States primarily leaves out Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, and the African littoral. To strengthen ties with New Delhi, the US has aggressively worked to remove the hyphenation between Pakistan and India for over 20 years. While the United States views Pakistan as a component of its South Asia policy, which is only focused on counterterrorism and selective engagement, China sees Pakistan as a cornerstone of its South Asian strategy. It will be difficult for Pakistan to avoid camp politics. Pakistan must ensure that it does not make the same mistakes as in the past by setting its red lines and sticking to its 21st-century foreign policy reaction mechanisms.