The US seeks to balance China in the Indo-Pacific, with the help of allies like India, Japan and Australia

Republican Senator Cory Gardner has recently introduced a bipartisan legislation in the US Senate that seeks to grow US influence in the Indo-Pacific region and promote free and open markets based on international rules through a multi-faceted policy framework, a move that could strengthen India-US partnership in the Indo-Pacific region to counter-balance China’s moves.

“This initiative is a generational approach that will put American interests first by reassuring our allies, deterring our adversaries and securing US leadership in the region for future generations,” said Gardner, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cyber security Policy, while introducing the legislation.

India and the US are part of a number of initiatives in the Indo-Pacific region, including trilateral dialogue with Japan (last edition was held here in April), trilateral naval exercise Malabar, also involving Japan (whose next edition is scheduled in June near Guam), and Quadrilateral (comprising US-India-Australia-Japan). 

Last February, India-US-Japan also held a dialogue on building infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region. This bill is significant amid US-China trade war and US interest to rejoin Trans Pacific Partnership. Interestingly, the legislation was introduced three days ahead of the Sino-Indian Summit in Wuhan.

Gardner on April 24 introduced the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), S. 2736, after holding four subcommittee hearings in 2017 on developing a US policy framework for the Indo-Pacific region. US Senator Todd Young (Republican) and Ed Markey (Democrat), ranking member of the subcommittee, are among original cosponsors of S. 2736, which has been referred to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

The legislation would include substantive US resource commitments, including the authorisation of $1.5 billion annually for five years to enhance the US presence in the Indo-Pacific, and $150 million a year for five years for democracy, rule of law and civil society support, according to persons familiar with the details.

“We believe that with this bipartisan vision for our Asia policy, the administration and Congress can be united on implementing a long term strategy that will benefit American national security interests, promote American businesses and create jobs ...,” Gardner said.