Editorial Notes

India, Japan and Australia: Triangular Approach to Indo-Pacific Diplomacy

India, Japan and Australia are geographically best positioned to demonstrate the value of the new triangular approach to Indo-Pacific diplomacy. They could build the first of multiple middle power coalitions for regional resilience in Trump’s world.
By IT's Editorial Board
February 10, 2017


GS (M) Paper-2: “Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests”


India, Japan and Australia: Triangular Approach to Indo-Pacific Diplomacy


  • The current friction between US and Australia is over whether US would honour the Obama administration’s promise to take 1,250 refugees left in limbo by Australian border control policies. The Australia is also concerned about America’s abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

These issues are reminders that many nations in the Indo-Pacific are struggling to navigate a path between assertive Chinese power and the new uncertainties of Trump’s America.

New triangular partnership in Indo-Pacific:

India Japan and Australia has been moving closer than ever.


  • India and Japan have been constructing new partnerships of security, economic and political cooperation to ensure that their countries can together shape the regional order and check US-China competition, collision or collusion.
  • There is a convergence of India’s Act East vision and Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.
  • Australia has long been another leader in building more robust regional security architecture. They opened ties with China as a part of diversification of Australia’s regional relationships.
  • India and Australia has been establishing economic, people-to-people links and security ties which include an anti-submarine warfare exercise in the Bay of Bengal last year.
  • The Japan-Australia relationship is also bouncing back. They issued a joint statement noting the synergies in their Indo-Pacific strategies and identifying India as a key third partner.

Potentials of this partnership:


  • India, Japan and Australia are geographically best positioned to demonstrate the value of the new triangular approach to Indo-Pacific diplomacy.
  • They could build multiple informal arrangements of nations cooperating with one another on strategic issues, working in self-selecting groups that do not include China or the United States.
  • They could mutually self-help in areas like security dialogues, intelligence exchanges, sharing of maritime surveillance data, capacity-building of military or civilian maritime forces in smaller countries in Southeast Asia or the Indian Ocean, technology sharing, agenda-setting in regional forums like the East Asia Summit and coordinated diplomatic initiatives to influence both US and Chinese strategic calculations.

Way ahead:

  • The annual trilateral among the foreign secretaries of India, Japan and Australia is being conducted in recent years. They should move beyond dialogue and build practical cooperation that helps all three, and the wider region, prepare for uncertain times.
  • This is not about constructing an Asia without America. Nor to contain China. This is about finding ways to limit regional instability amidst the shifting dynamic between America and China.
  • To be sure, the new coalitions like India, Japan and Australia will still lack sufficient weight to balance China on their own. But it would send a strong message to both China and America.
[Ref: Indian Express]


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