With just a week to go before its end, the Trump administration has declassified a sensitive document on the U.S. Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific from 2018. The 10-page document, declassified in part by US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, outlines objectives and strategies with regard to China, North Korea, India and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region. Framed more than two years before the India-China military standoff along the Line of Actual Control, the strategy makes more than 20 mentions of India – seeing it as pre-eminent in South Asia… taking on the leading role in maintaining Indian Ocean security. And in this regard the document says the United States will build a stronger foundation for defence cooperation, expand defence trade and ability to transfer defence technology to enhance India’s status as a Major Defence Partner, increase cooperation on shared regional security concerns and encourage India’s engagement beyond the Indian Ocean Region. On the other hand, China is the primary state actor of concern outlined in the document. As per the Framework, Beijing is increasingly pressuring Indo-Pacific nations to subordinate their freedom and sovereignty to a "common destiny" envisioned by the Chinese Communist Party. On this edition of the Big Picture, we will analyse the declassified US report on Indo Pacific and the growing importance of India in the region.
- The 10-page document, titled “U.S. Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific,” formally classified as SECRET and not for release to foreign nationals.
- It was compiled in 2018 and was expected to remain classified until 2043.
- It provided overarching strategic guidance for implementing the 2017 National Security Strategy within the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.
Today, any strategy for the Indo-Pacific would benefit ONLY from, the need for a balance of power; the need for an order that the region’s states recognize as legitimate; and the need for an allied and partner coalition to address China’s challenge to both. Such an approach can ensure that the Indo-Pacific’s future is characterized by balance and twenty-first-century openness rather than hegemony and nineteenth-century spheres of influence.