United Service Institution of India (USI) organized its 37th Annual National Seminar on ‘Strategic Balance in the Indo-Pacific Region: Challenges and Prospects’ on November 3 and 4, 2016 in New Delhi. 25 participants from ten countries namely Bangladesh, China, Germany, India, Russia, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Vietnam, presented their views in this event. Lt Gen PK Singh, PVSM, AVSM (Retd) and Director, USI welcomed the participants, followed by the keynote address delivered by former Vice Admiral Satish Soni, PVSM, AVSM, NM (Retd). The Concept Note of the seminar is given below.
The United Service Institution of India (USI) will organise its annual seminar on 03 and 04 Nov 2016 at New Delhi on the theme of, “Strategic Balance in the Indo-Pacific Region: Challenges and Prospects”. The seminar seeks to bring together varying perspectives on security challenges, mapping of economic potential and proposing architectures for collective security and economic integration.
Indo-Pacific Region is combination of Asia Pacific Region (APR) and Indian Ocean Region (IOR) connected by busy straits of Malacca, Sunda, Lombok and Makassar. The region encompasses almost half of the world population, a third of the top twenty economies, world GDP and exports. It is home to an enormously populous and diverse mix of ethnicities, cultures, political systems, religions and economies. As a confluence of two busy oceans, the region is the maritime highway of the world that combines emerging markets and resources of Asia and Africa with rest of the world. These two regions within it have several regional subsystems- which Barry Buzan, calls regional security complexes – each with its own distinct features and range of issues ,and yet interdependent and complementary in many ways. China benefits immensely from the existing international system and yet is not content with its west-centricity. China strives to create its own version of security and economic architecture.
The Indo Pacific Region is the center of gravity of global power shift. While the US seeks to maintain a status quo in the world order and international system, China, on the other hand, asserts for recognition as a major power and strives to carve out its own sphere of influence. Russia, Japan, South Korea, India and the ASEAN countries have become important stakeholders in the balance of power in the Indo Pacific Region and pursue their core objectives through dynamic balancing of interests. Contestation over maritime territories has led to military build up to protect perceived core interests that is manifest in China’s building military infrastructure over disputed islands /shoals/reefs, US assertions for freedom of navigation through the disputed waters, militarization of maritime space, stand offs in the ADIZs and nuclear brinkmanship by North Korea. The region now faces far more virulent form of collusive hybrid threats that combine asymmetric conflicts with conventional wars, under a nuclear overhang. The whole region is highly susceptible to terrorism, proliferation of radical ideologies, cyber-crimes, nuclear terrorism, piracy and multitude of international crime. Environmental degradation, calamities and pandemics pose an even bigger challenge to the humanitarian security. Blue Economy, has gained traction for sustainable management of oceans. Democracy, delivers a stake to billions in the region. The security environment in the Indo Pacific is impeding the promising economic potential of the region- which some call a paradox.
Indo Pacific Region is the epicentre of global economy in terms of availability of natural resources, trade flow and transportation of energy over the Western and the Eastern SLOCS to the West, East Asia and South Asia. The countries of the region are members of emerging economic architectures such as TPP, RCEP, Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, BRICS bank etc. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, India’s Projects; Mausum, Spice route, Sagar Mala and ASEAN’s economic dynamism add new dimensions to the nature of economic competition and cooperation. The economic heft of Indo Pacific Region lies in the competing economic blocs such as TPP and RCEP. The TPP would have a combined GDP of $ 26 trillion i.e., about 40 per cent of global GDP and over 30 percent of world exports whereas, the RCEP includes more than 3 billion people, has a combined GDP of about $17 trillion, and accounts for about 40 percent of world trade.
The strategic environment in the Indo Pacific Region is characterized by myriad of security risks. The existing security architecture in the Western Pacific and initiatives such as ‘Declaration of Parties’ and ‘Code of Conduct’ have proved ineffectual in mitigating security challenges and fostering cooperative security or building strategic trust. Likewise, the security paradox in South Asia needs a ‘de novo’ approach to break away from the prevailing Zero Sum narrative. There is need to review and harmonize functioning of regional organizations in Asia Pacific – APEC, ARF, EAS, SCO, SAARC, GCC, IORA and IONS. Integration of regional economies within and outside the region will lead to co-prosperity in a win- win paradigm. How can the emerging economic architectures such as TPP, RCEP, ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ be made more inclusive, merits informed debate. The IOR is gaining economic and security salience. There are no well – established security and economic architectures in the IOR. How should we initiate a strategic dialogue to build collective security, energize economic integration and build trans-continental economic and security linkages? The seminar seeks to provide a platform for cross- fertilization of views to build peace and promote prosperity in the Indo Pacific Region in a win- win paradigm.
The seminar sought to achieve the following:-
- Cross fertilize different perspectives on the security and economic challenges and cooperation clearly bringing out the convergences and divergences between various stake holders.
- Develop a nuanced understanding of the existing and emerging economic and security architectures and examine their efficacy to boost strategic trust and foster cooperation.
- Provide inputs to respective governments and institutions for review and reframing of policies and crafting strategic guidelines for bilateral / multi-lateral security, economic cooperation and building bilateral trust.
- Publish the proceedings of the seminar in the form of a book for wider dissemination to strategic community and academia
The programme of the seminar was as follows.
Day One – 03 November 2016 (Thursday)
0930 – 1000 – Registration and Tea
Inaugural Session (1000 – 1030)
1000 – 1010 – Welcome Address – Lt Gen PK Singh, PVSM, AVSM (Retd), Director USI
1010 – 1030 – Keynote Address – Vice Admiral Satish Soni, PVSM, AVSM, NM (Retd)
1030 – 1100 – Tea
|Session – I|
|1100 – 1315 – Security Challenges and Prospects in the Indo-Pacific Region
|Chairperson : Vice Admiral AK Singh, PVSM, AVSM, NM (Retd)
Co-Chair : Lt Gen MF Akbar (Retd) (Bangladesh)
|South Korea – Dr Changsu Kim
(Maritime Disputes in the East China Sea and its implications for Regional Security)
|Vietnam – Lt Col Ngo Thanh Tung
(Geopolitics of Maritime Disputes in South China Sea and its Implications for
|China – Sr.Col Mu Changlin (Retd)
(China’s Perspective on the Maritime Disputes in the Western Pacific)
|India – Maj Gen RPS Bhadauria, VSM (Retd)
(Dynamics of Indo-Pak and Sino-India Border Disputes and its Implications on
Stability of South Asia)
|Singapore – Ms Sumitha N. Kutty
(The Islamic State’s Influence in the Indo-Pacific Region)
|Russia – Dr Victor Sumsky
(Non-Traditional Security Challenges in the Indo-Pacific Region : Prospects for
|1245 – 1315 – Question and Answers/Closing Remarks
|1315 – 1400 – Lunch|
|1400 – 1600 – Economic Challenges and Prospects
|Chairperson : Ambassador Veena Sikri, IFS (Retd)
Co-Chair : Prof Yang Minghong (China)
|India – Ms Shebonti Ray Dadwal
– (Geopolitics of Energy Resources in the Indo-Pacific Region)
|China – Dr Huang Yunsong
(China’s Belt and Road Initiative – Challenges and Prospects)
|India – Ambassador Sanjay Singh, IFS (Retd)
(Perspectives on other Emerging Economic, Infrastructure and Trade Corridors in
|Sri Lanka – Admiral (Dr) Jayanath Colombage (Retd)
(Blue Economy and Coastal Management in the Coming Decade)
|Bangladesh – Dr Mohammad Jasim Uddin
(Challenges to Regional Economic Integration in Indian Ocean Region – Way
|1530 – 1600 – Question and Answers/Closing Remarks|
Day Two – 04 November 2016 (Friday)
0930 – 1000 – Registration and Tea
|1000 – 1230 – Emerging Architectures in the Indo-Pacific Region: Way Forward|
|Chairperson : Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, PVSM, AVSM, NM & Bar (Gallantry) (Retd)
Co-Chair : Ambassador Gleb A. Ivashentsov (Russia)
|Taiwan – Ms Tsun-Tzu Hsu
(A Prognosis of Competing Economic Architecture in the Indo-Pacific Region
(RCEP,TPP and other Economic Institutions) – Way Forward)
|Vietnam – Maj Gen (Dr) Nguyen Hong Quan
(Confidence Building Measures and Evolution of Security Architecture in the
|Germany – Dr Christian Wagner
(Security Architecture in the Indian Ocean Region – Way Ahead)
|India – Cmde Lalit Kapur (Retd)
(Security Architecture in the Indian Ocean Region – Way Ahead)
|1115 – 1145 – Tea
|1145 – 1230 Question and Answers/Closing Remarks
|Valedictory Session (1230-1300)
|1230 –1250 – Valedictory Address – Lt Gen PK Singh, PVSM, AVSM (Retd)
|1250 – 1300 – Vote of Thanks – Maj Gen BK Sharma, AVSM, SM** (Retd),
Deputy Director (Research) USI
|1300 – Lunch|
Welcome Address by the Director
Keynote Address by Vice Admiral Satish Soni (Retd)
Panellist for the First Session
Token of Appreciation Presented to the Speakers
Panellist for the Second Session
Panellists for the Third Session
Valedictory Address by Director USI
Vote of Thanks by Dy Director (Research)