Deputy US Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who is on India visit, has pitched for “vision of Pax Indo-Pacifica”, describing it as a “region at peace, protected and made prosperous in equal measure by those who comprise the Indo-Pacific”.
He was speaking at India-US forum in New Delhi, along with India’s foreign secretary Harsh Shringla.
Biegun said, “Together we stand for a pluralistic vision that will ensure that our countries, and all the region’s diverse countries, can thrive as sovereign and prosperous nations in a free and open Indo-Pacific. One might call this a vision of a Pax Indo-Pacifica.”
Pax is a term used in international relations, describing a zone of peace led by major powers. Historical parallels have been Pax Americana, a long period of peace after the end of World War II overseen by US, or Pax Britannica when British were the dominating power after from the end of Napoleonic wars in 1815 in Europe till around World War I.
Biegun also called for strong support for Quad grouping, citing “we have been too cautious…” and in fact, mentioned it 11 times during his speech.
He said, “Quad is a partnership-driven by shared interests, not binding obligations, and is not intended to be an exclusive grouping. Any country that seeks a free and open Indo-Pacific and is willing to take steps to ensure that, should be welcome to work with us.”
Quad is a grouping of four countries — US, India, Australia and Japan, and earlier this month, the foreign ministers of these countries met in Tokyo.
The grouping of “like-minded democratic countries” is seen suspiciously by China, but amid the pandemic, a number of programmes have been implemented to deal with global issues.
“The United States and India represent multi-ethnic, multi-confessional, democratic societies. Together with Japan and Australia, we are four democratic anchors in an Indo-Pacific region buffeted by changing winds and shifting currents,” he said.
He added, “We each have our imperfections, of course, and our own histories that steered our democratic paths, but we share values as well as common interests, and together our democracies represent the voices of a nearly a quarter of the world’s population.”
In March, Shringla and Biegun, along with other Quad countries, began weekly calls, and this was later joined by other Indo-Pacific counterparts to discuss and coordinate efforts to combat the pandemic.
Biegun’s visit comes days before the India US 2+2 ministerial talks between Indian and US defence and foreign ministers.