DPG Indo-Pacific Monitor

Indo Pacific Monitor

Date: April 30, 2024

Two Indo-Pacific summits drew attention during the month.  The first, between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Kishida on April 10, marked Japan’s decisive alignment with the US-led West.  The second, the US-Japan-Philippines summit on April 11, marked the emergence of a second US-led trilateral in East Asia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China from April 24-26 to take forward the process of engagement begun at the November 2023 Biden-Xi Summit.  Though the visit included a meeting with President Xi Jinping, major contentious issues remain.

Reports of a secretive agreement between former Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and China’s President Xi Jinping regarding the Philippines’ outpost on the Second Thomas Shoal created a media furore in the Philippines.  China continued its assertive actions in the region, while a joint Australia-Japan-US-Philippines maritime cooperation activity in the South China Sea on April 07 sought to bolster deterrence.

The US Congress passed the National Security Supplemental Budget which President Biden signed into law on April 24, providing funding for security assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. 

Election outcomes in two Indo-Pacific Island nations aroused considerable interest.  In the Maldives, President Mohammed Muizzu’s People’s National Congress won 71 of the 93 seats in parliament, giving it an absolute majority.  The outcome is expected to strengthen the Maldives relationship with China.  In the Solomon Islands, incumbent Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s Ownership, Unity and Responsibility Party was able to get only 15 of the 50 parliamentary seats.  Independents and small parties won 15 seats, while mainstream opposition parties won 20.

A Joint Statement by AUKUS Defence Ministers on April 08 took stock of progress in AUKUS cooperation.  Australia announced the selection of its build and maintenance partners for submarines to be built in Australia, as well as the qualification of an Australian steel-maker for the supply of steel for Australian as well as US and UK submarines.

Australia published its National Defence Strategy 2024 on April 18.

Houthi attacks on traffic in the Red Sea continued for the seventh month, undermining Freedom of Navigation at a choke point that normally carries 12% of world trade and 20% of world container traffic.  A new normal appears to have set in, with countries accepting the increased costs of alternative routing via Africa. 

Indian began delivery of BrahMos missiles to the Philippines on April 19.  Meanwhile, an Indian warship carried out the first successful drug interdiction operation as part of the Coalition Maritime Force on April 13.  Indian and Japanese ASW aircraft exercised together off Japan on April 04-05.

These and other developments are covered in this Indo-Pacific Monitor Vol. V, Issue 4.  To read, please see the PDF attached.