DPG Indo-Pacific Monitor

Indo Pacific Monitor

Date: December 01, 2023
As conflict continued in the Middle East, there was a significant increase in US military deployments, with two aircraft carrier strike groups operating separately to India’s West, while two other carrier strike groups operated together in the Western Pacific, where they were joined by ships from Canada, Australia and Japan.  The month also saw a continuation of FONOP operations and Taiwan Strait transits by US, Canadian and Australian navies.

There were three important summits during the month – US-China, China-Japan and China-Australia – which marked a relative easing of tensions and signalled steps to reinstate dialogue across political, military and trade issues. 

The 17th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting and 10th ADMM Plus Meeting were held in Jakarta on November 15-16, but did not result in substantive joint statements. 

India further strengthened diplomatic, security and defence ties with its key Indo-Pacific partners, the US and Australia, during the month.  The 5th India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting was held in New Delhi on November 10, with the second India-Australia 2+2 being held in New Delhi on November 20.

The Foreign Ministers of China, Japan and South Korea held a successful trilateral meeting in Busan on November 26, paving the way for a possible summit level meeting between the three countries in the coming months.  However, Japan’s vastly improved relations with South Korea suffered a setback, as a High Court in Seoul rendered a judgement on November 23, directing Japan to pay compensation to “comfort women” plaintiffs, a matter considered closed by Japan. 

The Philippines continued to move closer to the US and its allies, terminating three big-ticket infrastructure projects with China, while strengthening defence cooperation with the US, Australia and Japan.

Indonesia upgraded its ties with the US to the level of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership at a Presidential summit held in Washington D.C. on November 13.  During the visit of Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong to Tokyo from November 27-30, Japan became Vietnam’s sixth comprehensive strategic partner. 

Australia announced a slew of initiatives during the month to ensure the timely execution of the nuclear submarine construction project under AUKUS. 

As part of India’s growing maritime presence, its warships and Coast Guard vessels ranged from the Gulf of Guinea and Namibia in the Atlantic to Okinawa in the Pacific during the month.  Within the Indian Ocean, they showed the flag in Madagascar, Mozambique, Perth and Muscat.

These and other developments are covered in this Indo-Pacific Monitor Vol. IV, Issue 11.