US Pumping Money Into Indo-Pacific 'Will Lead to Militarization' – Analyst

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The United States could invest up to $1.5 billion to counter China’s interests in the Indo-Pacific region. A policy summary document posted by Senator Corey Gardner says that the proposed Senate bill authorizes $1.5 billion for 5 years to enhance the US presence in the Indo-Pacific area.

Sputnik has discussed this with Dr. Anuradha Chenoy, formerly of the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Sputnik: What are your thoughts on this discussion by the US Senate and US President Donald Trump to approve spending $1.5 billion in the Indo-Pacific?

Dr. Anuradha Chenoy: Firstly, I think it is a continuation of President Trump's consistency to be inconsistent because he first in the election campaign and earlier in his term said that he would not be pushing the United States into new military adventures but would be looking at developing the United States internally. So this goes against what he said himself, in which he is pushing for new militarist agenda in the Indo-Pacific. This is in his view, the American view a way to counter the Chinese push into that region, but it will only lead to new cycles of militarizing both the Indian Ocean as well as the Pacific, especially around the South and East China Sea, around Japan, Australia, India and Southeast Asia.

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Sputnik: How could this really affect the balance of power in Southwest Asia, in the Indo-Pacific?

Dr. Anuradha Chenoy: The balance of power will be such in which China, of course, is a major force and it's pushing its capital as well as geostrategic interests and claiming many of the islanmilds in the South China Sea.

It is pushing its new Belt and Road Initiative into ASEAN and into Central Asia, and towards various places, to the West, and it's enhancing its strength in the Indo-Pacific in a very big way.

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As far as ASEAN and many of the South Asian countries are concerned, many of them will probably balance between the US, which is a role partner, and China which is investing heavily and they're getting increasingly dependent on Chinese trade, foreign direct investment, and loans, and credits, etc.

So Southeast Asian economies and the South Asian economies are comparatively weaker than the Chinese and the American one, so they have little option but to try and balance between the two to get the best deal possible, but obviously, there will be a huge strategic competition to make all of the client states. So some of them might become client states of China and the others will remain client states of the US.

Sputnik: Do you believe that the US is more interested in political and military dominance, or in financial economic dominance in this region?

Dr. Anuradha Chenoy: I think the two are linked, there's an old argument that trade follows the flag, currently the opposite might be true, that the flag follows trade, so it's never just only military dominance there's always an economic angle to it.

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But there's also the question of international law, and I believe that both the US and China should really look at the law of the sea, and talk to each other, and all the other states involved, and have a conference and a convention on how the law of navigation should be ensured for all these countries on the rim of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, which is now called the Indo-Pacific because of geographical continuity, to make sure that everyone can benefit as opposed to this kind of militarist competition which seems to be taking a new spurt in this region.

Sputnik: There was a recent Military Posture published by the US where they named China and Russia as major threats to the United States, and, of course, this went against what Donald Trump was saying, that we're going to concentrate on our own home, we're going to get our troops home, and we're going to be making America great, and stop meddling in world affairs, so it would seem that now China seems to be perceived by some in the US administration as a threat, how do you see the bilateral relations between China and the US further developing? We've already seen the trade sanctions that have been implemented against China…

Dr. Anuradha Chenoy: It's clear that as far as US policy is concerned that it's completely inconsistent, and I think that nobody in the world can actually believe Donald Trump today.

Because he's known most of all for changing his position on a very regular basis, and he's completely unreliable, but as far as the encirclement is concerned of trade protection from both Russia and China, it's part of the neocon, and even democratic and liberal politics in which they continuously see Russia and China as threats, sometimes the threat towards Russia increases, as was the case on the issue of West Asia, Syria and others, and China is the new big threat, sometimes they engage with China.

They are forced to because of the high amount of Chinese investments in the US, worth trillions of dollars, but they're a bit wary of China because the sanctions against China also hurt American interests.

The views and opinions expressed by the expert speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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