Zeng Xiangyu: European Powers' Involvement in the Indian Ocean: Characteristics, Motivations and Influences


2022-06-24: [Chinese Article Link]  The situation in the Indian Ocean Indian Strategy In recent years, European Powers have significantly increased their involvement in the situation in the Indian Ocean, launching their own “Indian and Pacific” strategy, enhancing military deployment and security interventions in the Indian Ocean region, increasing the involvement of regional mechanisms and deepening cooperation on maritime security, with the aim of expanding their economic interests, enhancing their geopolitical influence and promoting the strategy of major Powers. The involvement of the major European countries has led to further militarization of the Indian Ocean region, expanding India’s strategic advantage, and working with the United States “Indo-Pacific Strategy.” These policies also face a number of constraints, including limited investment of resources, difficulties in balancing multiple strategic directions, ineffective strategic coordination, and complex challenges for strategic constituencies. Thus, in the short term, the big European countries will have little to do in the Indian Ocean region, and a more integrated and pragmatic strategy will be given greater weight, enabling India to maintain regional balance will be the main strategy of the big European countries. The situation in the Indian Ocean, the Indo-Pacific Strategy, European Powers, relations among major Powers, maritime security * This is the phased outcome of the general project of the National Fund for Social Sciences, “The impact of the Indo-Asian-African Development Corridor” on the `one-way' initiative” (project No. 19BGJ06). Hassu: Indian Maritime Security Strategy: Policy Planning and Practice, 2021 ed., Summer Publishing Ltd., pp. 40-42. The Indian Ocean is the hub of the contemporary international political economy. Since 2017, major European powers, such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, have taken action to step up their involvement in the Indian Ocean region, which has thus become a hot spot for powerful countries, where strategic collaboration among them and policy differences intersect. Focusing on the new dynamics and implications of the involvement of the major European countries in the Indian Ocean is more relevant for a comprehensive understanding of the synergies and points of disagreement in the policies of the major countries in the Indian Ocean, for an objective analysis of the evolution and development of the situation in the Indian Ocean and for the “one-way” initiative to promote and expand cooperation between China and other major countries in the Indian Ocean. Main features of the involvement of major European countries in Indian Ocean affairs The Great European Power has long been involved in the Indian Ocean region. The British army has long occupied the Chagos Archipelago in the Central Indian Ocean, and since the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, it has continued to send ships to the Gulf for a regular cruise, known as Operation Kipion. Between 2003 and 2011, the British Navy took advantage of “peacekeeping” operations to intervene in the Gulf region to protect two oil platforms for Iraq and to assist in the training of Iraqi naval soldiers. France has two overseas departments and millions of people in the Indian Ocean, has a strong military political influence in the south-west Indian Ocean region, with a long military presence of more than 3,000, and a military base in the Middle East was inaugurated in May 2009. Germany has also increased its activities in the Indian Ocean in recent years, with its warships co-located in the Arabian Sea twice in 2010 and 2013. Moreover, European powers are actively involved in multilateral naval mechanisms in the north-west Indian Ocean, focusing mainly on three areas. The first is the active participation of the United Kingdom in NATO's Ocean Shield counter-piracy operation in the north-west Indian Ocean since August 2009, which continued until the end of the operation in December 2016. The second is the ongoing joint operation "Taliban" (Operation Atalanta) in the waters of the Gulf of Aden by a number of European countries, including the British and the French. The third is the active participation of European Powers in the United States-led Joint Maritime Force (CMF), which to date has served as commander of its multiple joint task forces on 13, 11 and 5 occasions, respectively. After the United States reverted to the concept of the Indo-Pacific in late 2017, the British and French countries followed up and even planned (in particular France's performance), further escalating their engagement in the Indian Ocean from a more fragmented Indian Ocean policy initiative to a systematic strategic design. While this strategy has actively taken advantage of the emergence of the Indo-Pacific concept, the main element remains the further escalation and deepening of the original Indian Ocean policies of the major European countries, the implementation of which also reflects the strong demands of the major European countries on economic interests, geo-referenced influences and the strategies of the major Powers. (i) Coverage of the Indian Ocean policy with the Indo-Pacific Strategy The Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean are closely linked, but not fully integrated. For a variety of reasons, major European countries, such as the British and the French, have not developed a clear Indian Ocean strategy, but have introduced their own strategies to integrate the Indian Ocean region into the Indian-Pacific Strategy. After “Deo” the United Kingdom was busy with a variety of matters and delayed launching its own “Indo-Pacific” strategy, and it was only in March 2021 that the Policy Paper Global Britain in the Age of Competition was issued. Underscoring that “the Indo-Pacific region (including the Indian Ocean) is essential to the British economy, security and global ambitions in support of an open society”, the document clearly states that the strategic focus should be geared towards the region, with the widest and most integrated depth of existence to be achieved by 2030. France was the first major European country to embrace the word “indo-ta.” In May 2018, President Macron took the lead in accepting the concept of “indo-ta” and subsequently produced or updated five “indo-ta” policy papers. In 2018, the French Ministry of Defence issued "Safe France and Indo-Pacific ", defining the term "Indian " as a vast area from the African coastline to the seabed of the Americas, spanning the entire Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, with particular emphasis on France's unique role in the region. In May 2019, the French Ministry of Defence issued a report on the French Indo-Pacific Defence Strategy, stating that France was a major “Indian” country closely linked to developments in the security situation. Since then, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published policy documents such as the French Partnership in India (April 2021) and the French Indo-Pacific Strategy (published in July 2021 and updated in February 2022), emphasizing that the Indo-Pacific Strategy has become a priority for France's foreign policy and soft power strategy, clearly describing its specific actions along the lines of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also broken down the country's interests in the Indian Ocean into the development of a blue economy, connectivity, combating climate change, biodiversity conservation, maritime security and the promotion of human and cultural exchanges. Germany also has a more positive attitude. In September 2020, Germany launched the “Indo-Pacific Guidelines” called “Germany-Europe-Asia: Together Shaping the 21st Century,” emphasizing that “the Indo-Pacific region is a priority agenda for German foreign policy,” which defines “indo-Pacific” as covering the entire Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, displaying a bi-oceanic character similar to the French version of “indo-Pacific.” In practice, the German “Indo-Pacific” strategy is characterized by openness in the construction of the concept of “indo-Pacific”, the integration of claims of interest, the multilateral nature of the course of action and the realization of policy initiatives. (ii) Enhanced security presence Military deployment and exercises are major European powers involved in Indian Ocean affairs. After 1971, the United Kingdom was forced to withdraw from the Indian Ocean, leaving only a small British Indian Ocean Territory in the middle of the Indian Ocean (the British Ocean Territorial, BIOT), which has access to the military installations on the island of Diego Garcia. It was not until 2016 that Britain was determined to return to the east of Suez after “Deo.” In the autumn of 2017, the United Kingdom inaugurated the naval support facility at Mina Salman Port, Bahrain, with more than 300 British troops. In October 2018, the United Kingdom inaugurated the Joint Logistics Support Base at Duqm, which can be stationed at British military nuclear submarines and the Queen Elizabeth carrier. In September 2020, the United Kingdom announced that it would spend £23,800,000 (approximately $30,000,000) to expand the logistics support base in Dukoum by three times its size and to build a new dry dock, which, upon completion, could be manned by British military carriers and could also be used to support British Army training activities. In September 2021, Tony Radakin, First Secretary of State for the Sea and Chief of Naval Staff of the United Kingdom, also publicly stated that “it is to be hoped that the vessels (of the British Army) will work more vigorously with Oman and India, and indeed with the East Coast of Africa, through Diego Garcia”. In addition to its permanent military presence, the British Navy is also active in the Indian Ocean. In September 2021, British patrol vessels HMS Tamar and HMS Spey began long-term activities from the United Kingdom to the Indo-Pacific Sea, which is expected to last five years and will travel through the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. In July 2021, British forces sent the Queen Elizabeth carrier battle group to conduct a joint “Kankan” exercise with the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal. In October of the same year, the two countries jointly organized the first large-scale “Konkan-Sarkti” exercise. France, which has been operating in the Indian Ocean for many years, has already achieved a more robust military deployment in the South-West Indian Ocean and the North-West Indian Ocean. The centre of France’s security situation in the South-West Indian Ocean is La Réunion, which is located in Réunion under the Armed Forces Command of the French Army for the South Indian Ocean Region (FAZSOI), with approximately 1,600 troops and approximately 300 civilian personnel, reporting directly to the Chief of Staff of the French Army. The French maritime security layout in the north-west Indian Ocean is based in the Horn of Africa between Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf State, the largest overseas French military base with 1,450 troops. France holds the Strait of Hormuz at Camp de la Paix in the United Arab Emirates, including three camps on land, sea and air, for 650 members of the French Army; the naval base and logistics base near Port Zayed, the headquarters of the French United Arab Emirates (FFEAU), for all types of French naval vessels other than the carrier; and, if necessary, the French carrier is stationed at the port of Zayed. Over the past two years, France has taken advantage of joint security operations and military exercises to further strengthen the security situation in the Indian Ocean. In February 2020, the Europanan-led Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz, EMASOH, the military arm of AGENOR, was officially launched with the participation of eight European countries, mainly to monitor the Gulf, Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman sea lanes. Operation Agnore was led by France, and its headquarters was also located at the French naval base in the Emirates, led by the French operational commander. In September 2020, France dispatched a nuclear attack on the submarine “SSN émeraude” and the logistic support vessel “BSAM Seine” to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. France and India have already established a mechanism for joint naval exercises in Varuna. The 19th round of naval exercises in the Indian Ocean, held by the two armies in April 2021, was attended by the Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered carrier battle group, Rafale, and naval helicopters. By contrast, Germany does not have overseas territories or military bases in the Indian Ocean, and has a lower profile. Over the last two years, German ship visits, escort operations, small-scale exercises, etc., have significantly increased its security involvement in the Indian Ocean. In early March 2020, Germany announced plans to send the “FGS Hamburg” destroyer to the Indian Ocean, via Réunion Island in the south-west Indian Ocean, across the Indian Ocean to Australia, which was subsequently cancelled due to the influence of Covid-19 Pandemic. In July 2021, Germany also announced the dispatch of the FGS Bayern destroyer to the Indian Ocean, entering the Red Sea through the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean Sea and arriving in Australia across the Indian Ocean. The ship visited Pakistan, Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and India on the Indian Ocean coast, and in January 2022, the Bayin arrived at the Sri Lankan port of Colombo, where it conducted joint exercises with the Sri Lankan Navy, immediately followed by a visit to Mumbai, India. (iii) Increased participation in the Indian Ocean regional mechanism In recent years, a number of new regional mechanisms have been built in the Indian Ocean region by major European countries. In September 2021, the United Kingdom joined forces with the United States and Australia to launch the so-called trilateral security partnership (AUKUS). The US has publicly stated that it wants to use the Aucus Alliance, among other things, to achieve synergy between Insta’s and its European partners. Germany’s strategy is to strengthen collaboration with regional, subregional, and functional mechanisms at the same time. To this end, Germany has officially become a partner in the dialogue of the Indian Ocean Rim Alliance (IORA) (hereinafter referred to as the “IROA”); plans to strengthen its dialogue with the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Economic and Technical Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and seeks to establish institutionalized collaboration to strengthen cooperation with regional partners in the area of maritime security and disaster management; plans to join the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Counter-Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) to contribute to anti-piracy cooperation in the Indian Ocean and Pacific regions. Unlike Germany, France's participation in the Indian Ocean regional mechanism has shown a stronger geologic consideration, focusing on regional mechanisms and more on devising subregional mechanisms for the construction of a complete geographical layout in the Indian Ocean. Following its accession to observer status in 2001, France became a full member of the Union in December 2020, further expanding its influence. France, a founding member of the Indian Ocean Naval Forum, began its presidency in June 2021 (for a two-year term), during which it hosted a number of exchanges such as the Naval Summit of Member States, which effectively enhanced the country's influence. In recent years, France has further promoted a differentiated geo-location strategy in the Indian Ocean region, using subregional mechanisms to stabilize the south-west, consolidate the north-west (the Middle East) and build strategic support points in the north and south-east. In the South-West Indian Ocean, the Indian Ocean Commission, formed by France and Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles and the Comoros, included China, Japan, India, the United Nations, the European Union and the OIF as observers. The fact that the Commission is in French as an official language, in effect equivalent to the Community of la Francophonie in the South-West Indian Ocean region, that in July 2020 the French became Secretary-General of the Indian Ocean Commission, and that in May 2021 France assumed the chairmanship of the Commission, has consolidated the deployment and influence of French forces in the South-West Indian Ocean. In the north-west Indian Ocean, Macron visited the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in December 2021 to finalize a list of military sales worth $18 billion. At the beginning of 2022, the French Minister of Defence stated that France had arranged for its “Rafale” aircraft in the United Arab Emirates to assist the United Arab Emirates in conducting aerial reconnaissance and in protecting its airspace against drone and missile incursions. In the North and South-East Indian Ocean, where traditional influence is lacking, France has actively promoted relations with India and Australia, leading to a trilateral dialogue mechanism between France and Australia. During its visit to Australia in May 2018, Macron called for the creation of the Paris-Delhi-Canberra axis, which was referred to as “the key to our region and our joint objectives in the Indian-Pacific region”. With the active contribution of France, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the three countries held their first ministerial dialogue in May 2021, underscoring that their cooperation was based on the three pillars of maritime safety and security, maritime and environmental cooperation and multilateral interaction. Indo-French relations have continued to deepen, and in March 2020 and May 2022, two P8I reconnaissance aircraft travelled to Réunion to carry out reconnaissance missions in collaboration with the French Army. II. Motives for European Powers to step up their involvement in Indian Ocean affairs The increased involvement of major European countries, such as the British and the French, in the Indian Ocean reflects a series of profound and complex considerations surrounding economic development, geopolitics and global strategies. (i) Preservation of economic interests Greater involvement in the Indian Ocean by countries such as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Germany is intended both to safeguard their economic interests within the region and to guarantee the safe and easy access of European countries to the Indian Ocean shipping route. The Indian Ocean region is home to important economic partners from large European countries, with total trade with 24 major countries around the Indian Ocean amounting to $142.7 billion, $56.1 billion and $89 billion, respectively, in 2020. The three largest emerging markets in the region alone, India, have invested $54.1 billion since the twenty-first century. As of 2020, the United Kingdom had 572 businesses in India with nearly 420,000 employees; and France had about 1,000 companies in India with over 320,000 employees over the same period. Europe also relies heavily on Indian Ocean routes for its trade with most Asian countries, particularly in East and South-East Asia. According to statistics, 25 per cent of the world’s maritime transport (about 2,000 ships per day) passes through the Strait of Malacca, many of which are responsible for European import and export trade. In 2020, the combined trade of the three countries with China (including Hong Kong, China, and Macao, China), Japan, Korea and Viet Nam amounted to $59,8925 million, representing 12.78 per cent of the total foreign trade of the three countries. From 2017 to 2020, China and all European countries except Russia increased their annual trade from $671.9 billion to $80.1 billion, bringing the total to nearly $30 trillion. With this in mind, economic interests have naturally become an important consideration in the involvement of major European powers in the Indian Ocean. In describing its “global British” vision and the shift toward “indo-Pacific”, the United Kingdom puts economic opportunities first, emphasizing that Britain’s trade with Asia is heavily dependent on the Indian Ocean’s line of throats. In order to take full advantage of the economic opportunities offered by the region, the United Kingdom envisages the early conclusion of a new bilateral trade agreement with Australia, the establishment of a consolidated trade partnership with India, and the consideration of accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP), which includes a number of countries in the Indian Ocean (Malaysia, Singapore and Australia), to ensure that they can effectively increase their trade and investment opportunities. The French President's preamble to the French Indo-Pacific Strategy makes economic claims the second pillar of the four pillars of France's “Indian” policy, with a special emphasis on export support measures, in particular the promotion of exports involving the blue economy. Germany also admitted that its prosperity depended on open shipping routes and believed that millions of jobs in Germany depended on its trade and investment relations in the Indo-Pacific region. In order to continuously expand its competitive advantage and increase market access opportunities, Germany was eager to increase its involvement in regional affairs, emphasizing that it could no longer satisfy itself as a bystander of the situation in the Indian Ocean. (ii) Increased geo-impact Britain and France, both of which own territories in the Indian Ocean, consider themselves countries within the zone. Britain was once the colonial master of the Indian Ocean region, and its island of Diego Garcia in the Central Indian Ocean was opened for use by the United States military as early as 1966, with facilities nominally shared by the United States and practically dominated by the United States. As a result, Britain’s strategic configuration in the Indian Ocean has in fact for a long time lacked strong, autonomous support points. Until the 1980 Iran-Iraq war, the British army began sending ships to the Gulf for a regular cruise, and continues to this day. Since 1986, the British and Omani armies have been conducting regular joint training and exercises. Between 2003 and 2011, British naval forces carried out so-called “peacekeeping” operations off the Iraqi coast. Nevertheless, the lack of a stable British presence in the north-west Indian Ocean has not substantially changed this adverse situation until 2017, when the naval support facility at the port of Seleman was inaugurated, and the Dukoum base was launched the following year, significantly enhancing British influence in the north-west Indian Ocean. Unlike the United Kingdom, France has long maintained a strong influence in the Indian Ocean region. France has three overseas territories in the South-West Indian Ocean and the South Indian Ocean, namely Réunion Island, Mayotte Island and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAF in French) with a total area of slightly more than 10,000 square kilometres and a total population of more than 1,000,000, resulting in an exclusive economic zone comprising 20 per cent of the total area of France's exclusive economic zone. Despite its special influence in the south-west Indian Ocean and its largest overseas French military base in Djibouti in the north-west Indian Ocean, France's traditional strategic configuration in the Indian Ocean remains flawed and dangerous. On the one hand, the sharp bias towards the western Indian Ocean, particularly the South-West Indian Ocean, has little impact on the central, northern and south-eastern parts of the Indian Ocean and is not fully compatible with France's self-proclaimed position as a major Power. On the other hand, this strategic layout of the south heavy Reunion and north of Djibouti coincides highly with that of France's security situation in Africa, effectively balancing the two vast strategic spaces across land and sea with very limited security deployments. In order to remedy this situation, France has not only established large bases and military presence in the United Arab Emirates, but has also promoted the regularization of naval forces in the Middle East, the promotion of French-Indian-Australian trilateral relations, and the continuous upgrading of French-Indian cooperation. The aim is undoubtedly to compensate for its geo-silentness in the Indian Ocean, and to truly establish its full strategic influence in the region. Germany has long been deliberately low-key in the political and security arenas, reluctant to highlight the geopolitical significance of its moves. But Germany’s return to the Indian Ocean has objectively increased its political influence in the region, to the point that encouraging German high-ranking officials have occasionally sent some very high-profile political signals. In January 2022, German Navy Commander Shenbach visited India and gave a speech on Germany's “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, calling India a key strategic partner and publicly calling on both countries to intensify naval cooperation and increase strategic engagement. (iii) Strategies for enabling large countries The underlying motivation for European powers, such as the British and the French, to intervene in the Indian Ocean is to consolidate the status of the major powers and increase their political influence around the globe. After the “de-European” referendum in June 2016, the United Kingdom lost the EU’s support, and its unique relationship with the United States alone is far from sufficient to support its full-fledged status as a major power. Against this background, only a month later, the United Kingdom “Treo” launched the Global Britain concept, and the “turn to India” has increasingly become a major focus of British foreign policy. In December of the same year, then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson publicly stated in Bahrain, on the coast of the north-west Indian Ocean, that Britain had decided to return to the east of Suez. It is easy to see that the return of Britain to the Indian Ocean is not only intended to increase its influence in the region, but also to serve as an important means of preserving the British power’s continued and even enhanced status. France has a long tradition of “de Gaulleism”, which preserves its unique international political identity, and the Macron, which came to power in May 2017, has emphasized the diplomacy of independent and autonomous Powers and has even publicly stated that NATO is “brain-dead”. The emergence of the concept of “indo-Pacific” in France, including the Indian Ocean, as a major opportunity to revitalize its position as a major Power, has led to acceptance in Europe, and Macron has publicly referred to France as the “full-fledged Indo-Pacific State” and has proposed a comprehensive strategy for expanding regional engagement through the four pillars of security and defence, the economy, multilateralism and the promotion of public goods. In contrast to the deliberate emphasis on economic considerations in the British and German context, France's Indian Ocean policy and the Indo-Pacific Strategy clearly prioritize security and defence in an attempt to assert itself in the areas of traditional and non-traditional security. After the end of the cold war, Germany began to gradually expand its political influence, actively promote EU integration and use the EU platform to expand its influence, seeking to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, while increasing its presence in hot spots. In September 2020, Germany issued the Indo-Pacific Guidelines, which focused on the need for German involvement in Indian Ocean affairs, noting that the Indo-Pacific region, including the entire Indian Ocean, has more influence on the future international order than any other factor, and stressing that Germany cannot stand idly by on Indian Ocean affairs and must be deeply involved in regional affairs. III. Impact of the involvement of major European countries in Indian Ocean affairs Greater involvement in the Indian Ocean by major European countries, such as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Germany, has contributed to a more visible change in the regional landscape, which is centred on the following aspects. (i) Increased militarization of the Indian Ocean The increased involvement of the major Powers in the Indian Ocean has significantly intensified the militarization of the region. Following the announcement by the United States of “return to Asia and the Pacific” and, in particular, the introduction of the Indo-Pacific strategy from the end of 2017, the military presence in the Indian Ocean of major European Powers, such as the British and the French, has also intensified: the British naval support facility in Bahrain and the naval base in Amman Dokum, announced a massive expansion of the Dookum base in 2020; the continued presence of some 3,700 French troops in Réunion, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates, and the intensification of cruises, escorts and exercises in the Indian Ocean by French naval vessels, including carriers and nuclear submarines; and the relatively low profile of Germany, which has also begun to expand naval activities from the Gulf of Aden to the Somali sea area throughout the Indian Ocean. The arms exports of the major European countries also flowed into the Indian Ocean region in large quantities, with the British and French countries being the sixth, third and fourth arms exporters (regions) globally, with the three countries accounting for 4.2 per cent, 6.8 per cent and 6.4 per cent, respectively, of the world's arms exports for the period 2014-2018, together accounting for 17.4 per cent of the world's total. The Indian Ocean region, the main global arms importer, accounted for 51 per cent of global arms imports during this period, covering four of the world's five major arms purchasers (Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt and Australia). The region is also a major customer for arms exports from countries such as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Germany, which, according to statistics, accounted for 80.4 per cent, 62 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively, of foreign military sales to the Indian Ocean region during the same period. The three major clients of British arms exports (Saudi Arabia, Oman and Indonesia) are all located in the Indian Ocean region and account for 70 per cent of total British arms exports. France's three main clients (Egypt, India and Saudi Arabia) are also all from the Indian Ocean region, with total procurement as a proportion of total arms exports as high as 45.2 per cent. (ii) Strengthening India's strategic strengths In their involvement in the Indian Ocean, the major European countries have offered to upgrade their partnership with India as a major player in their own efforts to increase regional influence. The United Kingdom, in its “Global Britain” vision, has emphasized the need to advance defence cooperation with India as a means of enhancing security in the Indian Ocean region. The two countries released a joint strategic vision for India-France Indian Ocean cooperation as early as 2018, emphasizing, in half, the need for both sides to intensify joint maritime exercises, and to enhance maritime situational awareness in the Indian Ocean region. France's partnership with India is at the forefront of the partnership with India, emphasizing the deepening of the partnership between the two countries in the defence, nuclear and space areas and the importance of cooperation on maritime security, renewable energy and marine pollution prevention, and reiterating that the two countries have agreed to cooperate within mechanisms such as the Indian Rim Union and the Indian Ocean Commission. Germany attaches equal importance to the role of India, which it calls the “indo-Pacific” regional and nuclear Powers, believes that India will soon become the world's fourth economic power, and stresses the need to base German-Indian relations on multi-disciplinary cooperation and to promote joint German-Indian reform of the United Nations Security Council as a major element of its regional policy. For example, France, in its capacity as President of the European Union, held its first Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum on Cooperation in Paris in February 2022, in which it did not invite Pakistan, which is also a coastal country of the Indian Ocean, to participate, for reasons of French-Indian relations. The above approach is, of course, subjectively designed to serve the interests of the European powers themselves, but objectively puts India in a position of leverage, multiplicity, and profit. India’s strategic position is indeed more favourable than the complex situation in such countries as China and Russia, where there is a lot of doubt and even congestedness, and where countries in such regions as Iran and Pakistan are often marginalized. (iii) Limited synergy with the United States “Indo-Pacific Strategy” Greater European involvement in the Indian Ocean region has more complex implications for America’s “indo-Pacific strategy.” European powers, such as the British and the French, are all allies of the United States, with deep strategic convergence, and there is no fundamental contradiction between the Indian Ocean policy and the United States, whose contribution to the United States’ “indo-Pacific strategy” deserves great attention. On the one hand, the Indian Ocean policy of the major European countries has, to varying degrees, recognized the Chinese factor as a challenge and, despite its different formulations, the Chinese approach to prevention has remained consistent. The United Kingdom directly defines China as a “institutional competitor” and considers it a systemic challenge to the security, prosperity and values of the United Kingdom and its allies and partners. According to the French Ministry of Defence, the structural effects of the Chinese-American competition are the primary factor in shaping the geopolitical map of the Indo-Pacific, and China is seeking to use military force to redefine the balance. The French Indo-Pacific Strategy further defines “the rise in Chinese power and the growing expression of territorial claims” and “the rise in Chinese-American competition, tensions along the Chinese-Indian border and on the Korean peninsula” as the main strategic changes in the region. Germany’s Foreign Minister’s foreword to the Indo-Pacific Guidelines also views the strategic confrontation between China and the United States as one of the major trends in today’s world. Clearly, both the British and the French view the various China-related issues as destabilizing factors. On the other hand, the European powers attach great importance to cooperation with the United States and the Quad mechanism. Britain has been America’s strongest ally since the cold war. The value of the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States has been further highlighted since the British “Deo.” The British have publicly stated that the Anglo-American alliance is of paramount value, and that British-American relations are the most important bilateral relations. The French Government views the United States as a central partner in the Indo-Pacific region, stressing that France shares the same values as the United States of America, Japan and Australia, and that strategic partnerships with the four countries are essential for maintaining regional stability and deterring unilateral logic. To this end, France has actively promoted military cooperation with the US, Japan, and Australia, considering greater operational compatibility with the four countries as the primary means of maintaining strategic stability. Germany views the US as a “key partner.” IV. The challenges facing the major European countries involved in the Indian Ocean While the engagement of the major European countries in the Indian Ocean has progressed faster and received more attention, there are still a number of serious challenges behind strategic planning and visibility, which constrain the effectiveness and prospects of European countries'engagement in the Indian Ocean. (i) Limited resources available The cost of maintaining an effective overseas security presence in the long run is high, and resources are drained. Given the impact of the global financial crisis in 2008 and the European debt crisis in 2011, Europe’s larger economies are generally depressed, unemployment is high, and fiscal burdens are high. After 2011, the growth rate of the British economy rose from 1.4 per cent to 3 per cent in 2014 and then continued to decline to about 1.6 per cent; in France, from 0.3 per cent to 2.3 per cent in 2017, and in Germany, from 0.4 per cent in 2012 to 2.7 per cent in 2017, with a sharp drop of up to 1 per cent. By 2019, the British-French economy had grown by 1.67 per cent, 1.84 per cent and 1.05 per cent, respectively, and the economies of the three countries, which were hit by Covid-19 Pandemic, experienced a sharp contraction in 2020, falling to 9.396 per cent, 7.85 per cent and -4.570 per cent, respectively. Unemployment has also been severe in the major European countries. Unemployment has been declining steadily since 2009 in both the United Kingdom and Germany, but rose for the first time in 2020 as a warning sign. The unemployment rate in France has been higher than 8 per cent since 1984 (with the exception of 2007 and 2008), more than 11 per cent for seven consecutive years since 1993 (up to 12.59 per cent) and more than 10 per cent for three consecutive years since 2014. Against this background, there must be some objective difficulties for the major European countries to increase their security investment abroad. The outside world remains cautious about Britain’s claim to build a Middle East – Diego Garcia – Singapore axis by adding new bases in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific (the candidate is Singapore or Brunei) and returning to Diego Garcia. (ii) Multiple strategic directions are difficult to reconcile Europe’s major powers need to balance multiple strategic directions. While the Indo-Pacific region is indeed highly focused, it is by no means the only strategic direction for countries such as the British and the French. The European continent and its immediate vicinity have been the first strategic concern of European countries, particularly Germany and France, and the “Indian” region, including the Indian Ocean, cannot be compared to the European continent. In short, the “indo-Pacific” region is only a strategic sub-focus of German law, and the Indian Ocean is only part and not all of this. The Russian-Ukraine conflict has now escalated into Europe’s largest war after World War II, severely affecting the current European security system. The major European countries, in particular Germany and France, must focus their efforts and resources on prioritizing Ukraine and the follow-up crisis, and the strategic “condension” to Europe could become a major trend for some time to come, which would inevitably affect their strategic investment in the “indo-Pacific” region, including the Indian Ocean region. A typical example is the first European Union Ministerial Forum on Indo-Pacific Cooperation, held in Paris in February 2022, which was supposed to be a good opportunity for the major European countries to increase their influence in the Indian Ocean, and it is hoped that a series of policy measures will be followed up after the Conference. As expected, the crisis in Ukraine escalated into war during the conference, and the European powers were forced to devote themselves to it. As a result, while the entire conference was held as planned, the international impact was significantly reduced, and countries such as France and Germany had little time to take into account the follow-up measures to the conference. In addition to the European continent and India, the European powers have other strategic directions that need to be balanced. The United Kingdom’s “global British” vision was quickly launched after “de-Europe,” and its planning document devoted two pages to the “Indian-Ter” shift, but five pages to the positioning of Britain’s relations with the rest of the world. France’s diplomatic strategy has devoted much attention and energy to Africa, particularly to the French-speaking African region. In August 2014, the French army launched Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region of Africa, a multinational coalition against terrorism. Clearly, the French army’s involvement in Operation New Moon dunes alone has exceeded its military capacity in the Indian Ocean. So it is really very difficult for European powers to balance multiple strategic directions. (iii) Limited effectiveness of strategic coordination European powers’ involvement in the Indian Ocean’s policy measures, although somewhat compatible with the US “Indo-Pacific” strategy, is not entirely compatible with each other. The United Kingdom’s “de-Eurasia” has been eager to open up the diplomatic landscape globally, has not yet developed a systematic Indian-Pacific strategy document covering the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and its relative lack of power resources has limited substantive support to the US. For example, while the United States shares military facilities in Diego Garcia, there are only 40 to 50 British personnel, who are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the island, and thousands of United States personnel, who are in fact British and British, whose presence is symbolic. For its part, France clearly sees the Indo-Pacific region, which includes the Indian Ocean, at the heart of its strategy to establish a stable multipolar order, and believes that polarization will undermine the regional balance. This is a clear difference between the unipolar system pursued by the US or the one-size-fits-all Western system of the US. Moreover, France has included India, Australia, Japan, and ASEAN as partners with France’s shared vision (a commitment to an international order based on the rule of law) but has tended to exclude the US, almost directly criticizing it. Germany has clearly defined “anti-unipolar or bipolar” as its vital interest in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, emphasizing that “no country should be forced to choose sides or to fall into unilateral dependency” because bipolarism undermines the range of interests on which Germany relies. The differences between the European Powers and the United States in defining the geographical scope of the Indo-Pacific have also adversely affected their strategic coordination. “Indo-Pacific” areas, as defined by the United States, are virtually equivalent to the former Asia-Pacific+India: the United States National Security Strategy, published by the Trump Government in December 2017, defines “Indian-Pacific” as an area from the western coast of India to the eastern coast of the Pacific; while the United States-Indian-Pacific Strategy, published by the Biden Government in February 2022, defines “Indian-Pacific” as an area “extended to the Indian Ocean” in general terms, the Middle East and Africa are not mentioned at all in the list of subregions, and remains in fact focused on the Eastern Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific Ocean. The indicator is that, while the United States army changed the name “Pacific Command” to “Indian Command”, its jurisdiction remains unchanged and ends in the central Indian Ocean on the west side without continuing to extend to the west. This geographical definition, which focuses on the East Indian Ocean, differs from that of the major European countries. While the British and French describe the scope of the “indo-Pacific” differently, their actual policy actions are highly focused on the Western Indian Ocean, particularly the North-West Indian Ocean, with a marked increase in attention to the East Indian Ocean, where overall investment remains limited. Among the major European countries, France has the most complete strategic layout in the Indian Ocean, but its holistic design of the south-west, north-west, north-south-east and south-east also clearly demonstrates its strategic focus; cooperation with Indo-Australia in the development of the East Indian Ocean also shows that France does not intend to invest too much in the East Indian Ocean. France is actively engaged in a security and defence dialogue with the United States in Indo-Pacific, but it is mainly targeting the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, which France is most interested in. This is also quite different from American claims. There are also difficulties in strategic coordination between the three countries. The UK has distanced itself from the EU countries after “de-Eurasia,” although there is little practical collaboration in the name of cooperation. More importantly, the United Kingdom is much more motivated to follow the United States than it is to seek the collaboration of the European Union or the major European countries, and coordination between the United States and the United States often affects the interests of European partners. The sudden launch of the “Ocus” trilateral mechanism between the United Kingdom and the United States and Australia is typical. France has been pushing for cooperation between France and Australia in recent years, and the French Partnership in India has specifically given top priority to Australia’s cooperation and the Franco-Australian trilateral dialogue mechanism, ranking even better than ASEAN and the European Union. With the active support of France, the three-State mechanism held two consecutive events (including a ministerial meeting in May) in the first half of 2021, and the announcement in September 2021 that France had previously negotiated a multi-billion-dollar submarine contract with Australia came about only after the three countries had negotiated an agreement to communicate with France at the same time with the United States and the United States of America. This practice, which is totally hidden from France when important interests are involved, not only severely undermines its economic interests, but also its international prestige and political credibility. It naturally provokes strong French discontent, forcing the latter to protest by cancelling the forthcoming meeting of the British and French Ministers of Defence (Ministers), recalling the Ambassador to the United States and the Ambassador to Australia. France, which had been so inspired, had even revised the French Indo-Pacific Strategy and, in its latest edition in February 2022, no longer listed a separate partnership with Australia and the French-Indian-Australian trilateral mechanism, emphasizing that relations with Australia would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis in the future. Even in France and Germany, where there are many common languages, it is difficult to truly coordinate their Indian Ocean strategy. Both countries have offered to promote the EU’s “Indian and Pacific” strategy covering the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. With the joint facilitation of the two countries, the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union issued the report on the EU Indo-Pacific Cooperation Strategy in April 2021, which was formally approved by the European Commission in September. However, the actual synergy between the security forces of the two countries in the Indian Ocean remains low and ineffective, with Germany planning to send the “Hamburg” destroyer across the Indian Ocean via Réunion and, finally, unable to travel due to the epidemic. (iv) Complex challenges faced by strategic support points The involvement of the major European countries in the situation in the Indian Ocean requires the use of a large number of strategic support points, which often face complex challenges, some of which are difficult, and whose strategic underpinnings are increasingly uncertain. The question of the legal status of Diego Garcia is one of the major challenges facing the United Kingdom and the United States. Mauritius has been demanding the return of Britain to the entire Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia. Moreover, since the late 1990s, the First Nations of the Chagos Archipelago and their descendants began to seek the right to return to Diego Garcia, which was overturned by the British Government in 2008 on appeal to the House of Lords following a 2000 British court ruling that the 1971 ban on the return of the First Nations was unlawful. In 2017, the United Nations General Assembly formally requested the International Court of Justice to assess whether Mauritius had completed decolonization in accordance with the law and the consequences of British rule over Diego Garcia. In its decision of February 2019, the International Court of Justice found that Mauritius had not completed the decolonization process in accordance with the law and recommended that the United Kingdom should return Diego Garcia to it as soon as possible. The uncoerciveness of this recommendatory decision, which still constitutes considerable political and moral pressure, is particularly ironic at a time when the United Kingdom and the United States have repeatedly advocated the so-called “rule-based order” and respect for international law. France’s strategic poles in the south-west Indian Ocean are not without challenges. France has long argued with the Comoros over its affiliation to the island of Mayotte, whose dispute escalated markedly in 2018, and large-scale civil protests in the Comoros, strongly advocating that the island of Mayotte is Comorian territory. There are also territorial disputes between France and Madagascar, Mauritius and the Comoros over the attribution of parts of the islands of the French Indian Ocean. These long-standing disputes not only create political uncertainty, but also limit the maritime security situation within the French zone and objectively weaken its political and security influence. V. CONCLUSION An assessment of the prospects for greater European involvement in the Indian Ocean requires a combination of pros and cons, as well as internal and diplomatic constraints, and the following conclusions can be drawn from the preliminary assessment. First, Europe’s Great Congress has further strengthened the integration of Indian Ocean policy with the Indian-Pacific Strategy. A stand-alone Indian Ocean strategy would have to avoid the vigilance of Indian-Indian countries, particularly the major powers in the region, but would have to face the dilemma of inadequate resources, limited investment, and flexibility to deploy resources between the traditional Asia-Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is probably in the light of these dilemmas that the major European countries rarely single out their Indian Ocean strategy, but rather integrate it into the broader framework of the Indian-Pacific Strategy. Only France seems to be better able to integrate Indian-Indian policy with the Indian-Pacific Strategy, based on a clearer definition of its distribution of interests, strategic considerations, and policy measures. The British and German discourse on their own Indian Ocean policy remains fragmented and fragmented, often using the concept of “indo-Pacific” in general and vague terms. Given the late start of the development of the “indo-Pacific” document between the two countries, and the incomplete strategic layout of the Indian Ocean region, this should be seen as a transition. Secondly, while the major European countries have sought to further their involvement in the Indian Ocean, they have generally had little to do in recent years, and more attention will be paid to a pragmatic and integrated strategy. The economy of the world economy, particularly that of the major European countries, has suffered from a long period of depression, with Covid-19 Pandemic and the crises of Ukraine compounding in the last two years. In the short term, the major European countries will face even greater constraints in investing their resources in the Indian Ocean. But, precisely in order to make up for the lack of investment, the big European countries will have a greater incentive to strengthen policy planning and coordination, strengthen high-end meetings, joint statements, and ship visits, among other things, with visible advocacy effects, and actively create a greater awareness-raising potential, using this soft strategy to compensate for the limited capacity of hard inputs. Finally, India has implicitly become the focus of the partnership among the major European countries in the Indian Ocean, and its strategic position will be further enhanced. India’s strength is not the strongest compared to that of the major European countries. But India, which is located in the middle of the northern Indian Ocean, has an extremely favourable geographical location, is rapidly but far from being able to effectively crowd out European powers, and has the same ideological and political system as the West, and is generally more flexible in its foreign policy, so that countries such as the British and the French see it as the most appropriate partner. At a time when the Ukrainian crisis has severely held the energies of the major Powers, there is a greater possibility for the major European Powers to encourage India and to promote more Indian initiative as the lead sheep in the Indian Ocean region, thereby maintaining the balance of power in the Indian Ocean region and, in particular, resisting Chinese influence into the Indian Ocean. The situation in the Indian Ocean Indian Strategy This post is edited as follows: Poster: Ideas of Love (http://www.aisixiang.com), column: Academies of Heaven > International Relations > International Organizations and Cooperation Link to this paper: http://www.aisixiang.com/data/134884.html Source: International Studies, 2022, 5 issues Enter an e-mail address in the box, separated by a semi-accompanied comma (,) between multiple emails.


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Zeng Xiangyu: European Powers' Involvement in the Indian Ocean: Characteristics, Motivations and Influences


2022-06-24: [Article Link]  The situation in the Indian Ocean Indian Strategy In recent years, European Powers have significantly increased their involvement in the situation in the Indian Ocean, launching their own “Indian and Pacific” strategy, enhancing military deployment and security interventions in the Indian Ocean region, increasing the involvement of regional mechanisms and deepening cooperation on maritime security, with the aim of expanding their economic interests, enhancing their geopolitical influence and promoting the strategy of major Powers. The involvement of the major European countries has led to further militarization of the Indian Ocean region, expanding India’s strategic advantage, and working with the United States “Indo-Pacific Strategy.” These policies also face a number of constraints, including limited investment of resources, difficulties in balancing multiple strategic directions, ineffective strategic coordination, and complex challenges for strategic constituencies. Thus, in the short term, the big European countries will have little to do in the Indian Ocean region, and a more integrated and pragmatic strategy will be given greater weight, enabling India to maintain regional balance will be the main strategy of the big European countries. The situation in the Indian Ocean, the Indo-Pacific Strategy, European Powers, relations among major Powers, maritime security * This is the phased outcome of the general project of the National Fund for Social Sciences, “The impact of the Indo-Asian-African Development Corridor” on the `one-way' initiative” (project No. 19BGJ06). Hassu: Indian Maritime Security Strategy: Policy Planning and Practice, 2021 ed., Summer Publishing Ltd., pp. 40-42. The Indian Ocean is the hub of the contemporary international political economy. Since 2017, major European powers, such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, have taken action to step up their involvement in the Indian Ocean region, which has thus become a hot spot for powerful countries, where strategic collaboration among them and policy differences intersect. Focusing on the new dynamics and implications of the involvement of the major European countries in the Indian Ocean is more relevant for a comprehensive understanding of the synergies and points of disagreement in the policies of the major countries in the Indian Ocean, for an objective analysis of the evolution and development of the situation in the Indian Ocean and for the “one-way” initiative to promote and expand cooperation between China and other major countries in the Indian Ocean. Main features of the involvement of major European countries in Indian Ocean affairs The Great European Power has long been involved in the Indian Ocean region. The British army has long occupied the Chagos Archipelago in the Central Indian Ocean, and since the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, it has continued to send ships to the Gulf for a regular cruise, known as Operation Kipion. Between 2003 and 2011, the British Navy took advantage of “peacekeeping” operations to intervene in the Gulf region to protect two oil platforms for Iraq and to assist in the training of Iraqi naval soldiers. France has two overseas departments and millions of people in the Indian Ocean, has a strong military political influence in the south-west Indian Ocean region, with a long military presence of more than 3,000, and a military base in the Middle East was inaugurated in May 2009. Germany has also increased its activities in the Indian Ocean in recent years, with its warships co-located in the Arabian Sea twice in 2010 and 2013. Moreover, European powers are actively involved in multilateral naval mechanisms in the north-west Indian Ocean, focusing mainly on three areas. The first is the active participation of the United Kingdom in NATO's Ocean Shield counter-piracy operation in the north-west Indian Ocean since August 2009, which continued until the end of the operation in December 2016. The second is the ongoing joint operation "Taliban" (Operation Atalanta) in the waters of the Gulf of Aden by a number of European countries, including the British and the French. The third is the active participation of European Powers in the United States-led Joint Maritime Force (CMF), which to date has served as commander of its multiple joint task forces on 13, 11 and 5 occasions, respectively. After the United States reverted to the concept of the Indo-Pacific in late 2017, the British and French countries followed up and even planned (in particular France's performance), further escalating their engagement in the Indian Ocean from a more fragmented Indian Ocean policy initiative to a systematic strategic design. While this strategy has actively taken advantage of the emergence of the Indo-Pacific concept, the main element remains the further escalation and deepening of the original Indian Ocean policies of the major European countries, the implementation of which also reflects the strong demands of the major European countries on economic interests, geo-referenced influences and the strategies of the major Powers. (i) Coverage of the Indian Ocean policy with the Indo-Pacific Strategy The Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean are closely linked, but not fully integrated. For a variety of reasons, major European countries, such as the British and the French, have not developed a clear Indian Ocean strategy, but have introduced their own strategies to integrate the Indian Ocean region into the Indian-Pacific Strategy. After “Deo” the United Kingdom was busy with a variety of matters and delayed launching its own “Indo-Pacific” strategy, and it was only in March 2021 that the Policy Paper Global Britain in the Age of Competition was issued. Underscoring that “the Indo-Pacific region (including the Indian Ocean) is essential to the British economy, security and global ambitions in support of an open society”, the document clearly states that the strategic focus should be geared towards the region, with the widest and most integrated depth of existence to be achieved by 2030. France was the first major European country to embrace the word “indo-ta.” In May 2018, President Macron took the lead in accepting the concept of “indo-ta” and subsequently produced or updated five “indo-ta” policy papers. In 2018, the French Ministry of Defence issued "Safe France and Indo-Pacific ", defining the term "Indian " as a vast area from the African coastline to the seabed of the Americas, spanning the entire Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, with particular emphasis on France's unique role in the region. In May 2019, the French Ministry of Defence issued a report on the French Indo-Pacific Defence Strategy, stating that France was a major “Indian” country closely linked to developments in the security situation. Since then, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published policy documents such as the French Partnership in India (April 2021) and the French Indo-Pacific Strategy (published in July 2021 and updated in February 2022), emphasizing that the Indo-Pacific Strategy has become a priority for France's foreign policy and soft power strategy, clearly describing its specific actions along the lines of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also broken down the country's interests in the Indian Ocean into the development of a blue economy, connectivity, combating climate change, biodiversity conservation, maritime security and the promotion of human and cultural exchanges. Germany also has a more positive attitude. In September 2020, Germany launched the “Indo-Pacific Guidelines” called “Germany-Europe-Asia: Together Shaping the 21st Century,” emphasizing that “the Indo-Pacific region is a priority agenda for German foreign policy,” which defines “indo-Pacific” as covering the entire Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, displaying a bi-oceanic character similar to the French version of “indo-Pacific.” In practice, the German “Indo-Pacific” strategy is characterized by openness in the construction of the concept of “indo-Pacific”, the integration of claims of interest, the multilateral nature of the course of action and the realization of policy initiatives. (ii) Enhanced security presence Military deployment and exercises are major European powers involved in Indian Ocean affairs. After 1971, the United Kingdom was forced to withdraw from the Indian Ocean, leaving only a small British Indian Ocean Territory in the middle of the Indian Ocean (the British Ocean Territorial, BIOT), which has access to the military installations on the island of Diego Garcia. It was not until 2016 that Britain was determined to return to the east of Suez after “Deo.” In the autumn of 2017, the United Kingdom inaugurated the naval support facility at Mina Salman Port, Bahrain, with more than 300 British troops. In October 2018, the United Kingdom inaugurated the Joint Logistics Support Base at Duqm, which can be stationed at British military nuclear submarines and the Queen Elizabeth carrier. In September 2020, the United Kingdom announced that it would spend £23,800,000 (approximately $30,000,000) to expand the logistics support base in Dukoum by three times its size and to build a new dry dock, which, upon completion, could be manned by British military carriers and could also be used to support British Army training activities. In September 2021, Tony Radakin, First Secretary of State for the Sea and Chief of Naval Staff of the United Kingdom, also publicly stated that “it is to be hoped that the vessels (of the British Army) will work more vigorously with Oman and India, and indeed with the East Coast of Africa, through Diego Garcia”. In addition to its permanent military presence, the British Navy is also active in the Indian Ocean. In September 2021, British patrol vessels HMS Tamar and HMS Spey began long-term activities from the United Kingdom to the Indo-Pacific Sea, which is expected to last five years and will travel through the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. In July 2021, British forces sent the Queen Elizabeth carrier battle group to conduct a joint “Kankan” exercise with the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal. In October of the same year, the two countries jointly organized the first large-scale “Konkan-Sarkti” exercise. France, which has been operating in the Indian Ocean for many years, has already achieved a more robust military deployment in the South-West Indian Ocean and the North-West Indian Ocean. The centre of France’s security situation in the South-West Indian Ocean is La Réunion, which is located in Réunion under the Armed Forces Command of the French Army for the South Indian Ocean Region (FAZSOI), with approximately 1,600 troops and approximately 300 civilian personnel, reporting directly to the Chief of Staff of the French Army. The French maritime security layout in the north-west Indian Ocean is based in the Horn of Africa between Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf State, the largest overseas French military base with 1,450 troops. France holds the Strait of Hormuz at Camp de la Paix in the United Arab Emirates, including three camps on land, sea and air, for 650 members of the French Army; the naval base and logistics base near Port Zayed, the headquarters of the French United Arab Emirates (FFEAU), for all types of French naval vessels other than the carrier; and, if necessary, the French carrier is stationed at the port of Zayed. Over the past two years, France has taken advantage of joint security operations and military exercises to further strengthen the security situation in the Indian Ocean. In February 2020, the Europanan-led Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz, EMASOH, the military arm of AGENOR, was officially launched with the participation of eight European countries, mainly to monitor the Gulf, Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman sea lanes. Operation Agnore was led by France, and its headquarters was also located at the French naval base in the Emirates, led by the French operational commander. In September 2020, France dispatched a nuclear attack on the submarine “SSN émeraude” and the logistic support vessel “BSAM Seine” to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. France and India have already established a mechanism for joint naval exercises in Varuna. The 19th round of naval exercises in the Indian Ocean, held by the two armies in April 2021, was attended by the Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered carrier battle group, Rafale, and naval helicopters. By contrast, Germany does not have overseas territories or military bases in the Indian Ocean, and has a lower profile. Over the last two years, German ship visits, escort operations, small-scale exercises, etc., have significantly increased its security involvement in the Indian Ocean. In early March 2020, Germany announced plans to send the “FGS Hamburg” destroyer to the Indian Ocean, via Réunion Island in the south-west Indian Ocean, across the Indian Ocean to Australia, which was subsequently cancelled due to the influence of Covid-19 Pandemic. In July 2021, Germany also announced the dispatch of the FGS Bayern destroyer to the Indian Ocean, entering the Red Sea through the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean Sea and arriving in Australia across the Indian Ocean. The ship visited Pakistan, Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and India on the Indian Ocean coast, and in January 2022, the Bayin arrived at the Sri Lankan port of Colombo, where it conducted joint exercises with the Sri Lankan Navy, immediately followed by a visit to Mumbai, India. (iii) Increased participation in the Indian Ocean regional mechanism In recent years, a number of new regional mechanisms have been built in the Indian Ocean region by major European countries. In September 2021, the United Kingdom joined forces with the United States and Australia to launch the so-called trilateral security partnership (AUKUS). The US has publicly stated that it wants to use the Aucus Alliance, among other things, to achieve synergy between Insta’s and its European partners. Germany’s strategy is to strengthen collaboration with regional, subregional, and functional mechanisms at the same time. To this end, Germany has officially become a partner in the dialogue of the Indian Ocean Rim Alliance (IORA) (hereinafter referred to as the “IROA”); plans to strengthen its dialogue with the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Economic and Technical Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and seeks to establish institutionalized collaboration to strengthen cooperation with regional partners in the area of maritime security and disaster management; plans to join the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Counter-Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) to contribute to anti-piracy cooperation in the Indian Ocean and Pacific regions. Unlike Germany, France's participation in the Indian Ocean regional mechanism has shown a stronger geologic consideration, focusing on regional mechanisms and more on devising subregional mechanisms for the construction of a complete geographical layout in the Indian Ocean. Following its accession to observer status in 2001, France became a full member of the Union in December 2020, further expanding its influence. France, a founding member of the Indian Ocean Naval Forum, began its presidency in June 2021 (for a two-year term), during which it hosted a number of exchanges such as the Naval Summit of Member States, which effectively enhanced the country's influence. In recent years, France has further promoted a differentiated geo-location strategy in the Indian Ocean region, using subregional mechanisms to stabilize the south-west, consolidate the north-west (the Middle East) and build strategic support points in the north and south-east. In the South-West Indian Ocean, the Indian Ocean Commission, formed by France and Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles and the Comoros, included China, Japan, India, the United Nations, the European Union and the OIF as observers. The fact that the Commission is in French as an official language, in effect equivalent to the Community of la Francophonie in the South-West Indian Ocean region, that in July 2020 the French became Secretary-General of the Indian Ocean Commission, and that in May 2021 France assumed the chairmanship of the Commission, has consolidated the deployment and influence of French forces in the South-West Indian Ocean. In the north-west Indian Ocean, Macron visited the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in December 2021 to finalize a list of military sales worth $18 billion. At the beginning of 2022, the French Minister of Defence stated that France had arranged for its “Rafale” aircraft in the United Arab Emirates to assist the United Arab Emirates in conducting aerial reconnaissance and in protecting its airspace against drone and missile incursions. In the North and South-East Indian Ocean, where traditional influence is lacking, France has actively promoted relations with India and Australia, leading to a trilateral dialogue mechanism between France and Australia. During its visit to Australia in May 2018, Macron called for the creation of the Paris-Delhi-Canberra axis, which was referred to as “the key to our region and our joint objectives in the Indian-Pacific region”. With the active contribution of France, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the three countries held their first ministerial dialogue in May 2021, underscoring that their cooperation was based on the three pillars of maritime safety and security, maritime and environmental cooperation and multilateral interaction. Indo-French relations have continued to deepen, and in March 2020 and May 2022, two P8I reconnaissance aircraft travelled to Réunion to carry out reconnaissance missions in collaboration with the French Army. II. Motives for European Powers to step up their involvement in Indian Ocean affairs The increased involvement of major European countries, such as the British and the French, in the Indian Ocean reflects a series of profound and complex considerations surrounding economic development, geopolitics and global strategies. (i) Preservation of economic interests Greater involvement in the Indian Ocean by countries such as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Germany is intended both to safeguard their economic interests within the region and to guarantee the safe and easy access of European countries to the Indian Ocean shipping route. The Indian Ocean region is home to important economic partners from large European countries, with total trade with 24 major countries around the Indian Ocean amounting to $142.7 billion, $56.1 billion and $89 billion, respectively, in 2020. The three largest emerging markets in the region alone, India, have invested $54.1 billion since the twenty-first century. As of 2020, the United Kingdom had 572 businesses in India with nearly 420,000 employees; and France had about 1,000 companies in India with over 320,000 employees over the same period. Europe also relies heavily on Indian Ocean routes for its trade with most Asian countries, particularly in East and South-East Asia. According to statistics, 25 per cent of the world’s maritime transport (about 2,000 ships per day) passes through the Strait of Malacca, many of which are responsible for European import and export trade. In 2020, the combined trade of the three countries with China (including Hong Kong, China, and Macao, China), Japan, Korea and Viet Nam amounted to $59,8925 million, representing 12.78 per cent of the total foreign trade of the three countries. From 2017 to 2020, China and all European countries except Russia increased their annual trade from $671.9 billion to $80.1 billion, bringing the total to nearly $30 trillion. With this in mind, economic interests have naturally become an important consideration in the involvement of major European powers in the Indian Ocean. In describing its “global British” vision and the shift toward “indo-Pacific”, the United Kingdom puts economic opportunities first, emphasizing that Britain’s trade with Asia is heavily dependent on the Indian Ocean’s line of throats. In order to take full advantage of the economic opportunities offered by the region, the United Kingdom envisages the early conclusion of a new bilateral trade agreement with Australia, the establishment of a consolidated trade partnership with India, and the consideration of accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP), which includes a number of countries in the Indian Ocean (Malaysia, Singapore and Australia), to ensure that they can effectively increase their trade and investment opportunities. The French President's preamble to the French Indo-Pacific Strategy makes economic claims the second pillar of the four pillars of France's “Indian” policy, with a special emphasis on export support measures, in particular the promotion of exports involving the blue economy. Germany also admitted that its prosperity depended on open shipping routes and believed that millions of jobs in Germany depended on its trade and investment relations in the Indo-Pacific region. In order to continuously expand its competitive advantage and increase market access opportunities, Germany was eager to increase its involvement in regional affairs, emphasizing that it could no longer satisfy itself as a bystander of the situation in the Indian Ocean. (ii) Increased geo-impact Britain and France, both of which own territories in the Indian Ocean, consider themselves countries within the zone. Britain was once the colonial master of the Indian Ocean region, and its island of Diego Garcia in the Central Indian Ocean was opened for use by the United States military as early as 1966, with facilities nominally shared by the United States and practically dominated by the United States. As a result, Britain’s strategic configuration in the Indian Ocean has in fact for a long time lacked strong, autonomous support points. Until the 1980 Iran-Iraq war, the British army began sending ships to the Gulf for a regular cruise, and continues to this day. Since 1986, the British and Omani armies have been conducting regular joint training and exercises. Between 2003 and 2011, British naval forces carried out so-called “peacekeeping” operations off the Iraqi coast. Nevertheless, the lack of a stable British presence in the north-west Indian Ocean has not substantially changed this adverse situation until 2017, when the naval support facility at the port of Seleman was inaugurated, and the Dukoum base was launched the following year, significantly enhancing British influence in the north-west Indian Ocean. Unlike the United Kingdom, France has long maintained a strong influence in the Indian Ocean region. France has three overseas territories in the South-West Indian Ocean and the South Indian Ocean, namely Réunion Island, Mayotte Island and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAF in French) with a total area of slightly more than 10,000 square kilometres and a total population of more than 1,000,000, resulting in an exclusive economic zone comprising 20 per cent of the total area of France's exclusive economic zone. Despite its special influence in the south-west Indian Ocean and its largest overseas French military base in Djibouti in the north-west Indian Ocean, France's traditional strategic configuration in the Indian Ocean remains flawed and dangerous. On the one hand, the sharp bias towards the western Indian Ocean, particularly the South-West Indian Ocean, has little impact on the central, northern and south-eastern parts of the Indian Ocean and is not fully compatible with France's self-proclaimed position as a major Power. On the other hand, this strategic layout of the south heavy Reunion and north of Djibouti coincides highly with that of France's security situation in Africa, effectively balancing the two vast strategic spaces across land and sea with very limited security deployments. In order to remedy this situation, France has not only established large bases and military presence in the United Arab Emirates, but has also promoted the regularization of naval forces in the Middle East, the promotion of French-Indian-Australian trilateral relations, and the continuous upgrading of French-Indian cooperation. The aim is undoubtedly to compensate for its geo-silentness in the Indian Ocean, and to truly establish its full strategic influence in the region. Germany has long been deliberately low-key in the political and security arenas, reluctant to highlight the geopolitical significance of its moves. But Germany’s return to the Indian Ocean has objectively increased its political influence in the region, to the point that encouraging German high-ranking officials have occasionally sent some very high-profile political signals. In January 2022, German Navy Commander Shenbach visited India and gave a speech on Germany's “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, calling India a key strategic partner and publicly calling on both countries to intensify naval cooperation and increase strategic engagement. (iii) Strategies for enabling large countries The underlying motivation for European powers, such as the British and the French, to intervene in the Indian Ocean is to consolidate the status of the major powers and increase their political influence around the globe. After the “de-European” referendum in June 2016, the United Kingdom lost the EU’s support, and its unique relationship with the United States alone is far from sufficient to support its full-fledged status as a major power. Against this background, only a month later, the United Kingdom “Treo” launched the Global Britain concept, and the “turn to India” has increasingly become a major focus of British foreign policy. In December of the same year, then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson publicly stated in Bahrain, on the coast of the north-west Indian Ocean, that Britain had decided to return to the east of Suez. It is easy to see that the return of Britain to the Indian Ocean is not only intended to increase its influence in the region, but also to serve as an important means of preserving the British power’s continued and even enhanced status. France has a long tradition of “de Gaulleism”, which preserves its unique international political identity, and the Macron, which came to power in May 2017, has emphasized the diplomacy of independent and autonomous Powers and has even publicly stated that NATO is “brain-dead”. The emergence of the concept of “indo-Pacific” in France, including the Indian Ocean, as a major opportunity to revitalize its position as a major Power, has led to acceptance in Europe, and Macron has publicly referred to France as the “full-fledged Indo-Pacific State” and has proposed a comprehensive strategy for expanding regional engagement through the four pillars of security and defence, the economy, multilateralism and the promotion of public goods. In contrast to the deliberate emphasis on economic considerations in the British and German context, France's Indian Ocean policy and the Indo-Pacific Strategy clearly prioritize security and defence in an attempt to assert itself in the areas of traditional and non-traditional security. After the end of the cold war, Germany began to gradually expand its political influence, actively promote EU integration and use the EU platform to expand its influence, seeking to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, while increasing its presence in hot spots. In September 2020, Germany issued the Indo-Pacific Guidelines, which focused on the need for German involvement in Indian Ocean affairs, noting that the Indo-Pacific region, including the entire Indian Ocean, has more influence on the future international order than any other factor, and stressing that Germany cannot stand idly by on Indian Ocean affairs and must be deeply involved in regional affairs. III. Impact of the involvement of major European countries in Indian Ocean affairs Greater involvement in the Indian Ocean by major European countries, such as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Germany, has contributed to a more visible change in the regional landscape, which is centred on the following aspects. (i) Increased militarization of the Indian Ocean The increased involvement of the major Powers in the Indian Ocean has significantly intensified the militarization of the region. Following the announcement by the United States of “return to Asia and the Pacific” and, in particular, the introduction of the Indo-Pacific strategy from the end of 2017, the military presence in the Indian Ocean of major European Powers, such as the British and the French, has also intensified: the British naval support facility in Bahrain and the naval base in Amman Dokum, announced a massive expansion of the Dookum base in 2020; the continued presence of some 3,700 French troops in Réunion, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates, and the intensification of cruises, escorts and exercises in the Indian Ocean by French naval vessels, including carriers and nuclear submarines; and the relatively low profile of Germany, which has also begun to expand naval activities from the Gulf of Aden to the Somali sea area throughout the Indian Ocean. The arms exports of the major European countries also flowed into the Indian Ocean region in large quantities, with the British and French countries being the sixth, third and fourth arms exporters (regions) globally, with the three countries accounting for 4.2 per cent, 6.8 per cent and 6.4 per cent, respectively, of the world's arms exports for the period 2014-2018, together accounting for 17.4 per cent of the world's total. The Indian Ocean region, the main global arms importer, accounted for 51 per cent of global arms imports during this period, covering four of the world's five major arms purchasers (Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt and Australia). The region is also a major customer for arms exports from countries such as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Germany, which, according to statistics, accounted for 80.4 per cent, 62 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively, of foreign military sales to the Indian Ocean region during the same period. The three major clients of British arms exports (Saudi Arabia, Oman and Indonesia) are all located in the Indian Ocean region and account for 70 per cent of total British arms exports. France's three main clients (Egypt, India and Saudi Arabia) are also all from the Indian Ocean region, with total procurement as a proportion of total arms exports as high as 45.2 per cent. (ii) Strengthening India's strategic strengths In their involvement in the Indian Ocean, the major European countries have offered to upgrade their partnership with India as a major player in their own efforts to increase regional influence. The United Kingdom, in its “Global Britain” vision, has emphasized the need to advance defence cooperation with India as a means of enhancing security in the Indian Ocean region. The two countries released a joint strategic vision for India-France Indian Ocean cooperation as early as 2018, emphasizing, in half, the need for both sides to intensify joint maritime exercises, and to enhance maritime situational awareness in the Indian Ocean region. France's partnership with India is at the forefront of the partnership with India, emphasizing the deepening of the partnership between the two countries in the defence, nuclear and space areas and the importance of cooperation on maritime security, renewable energy and marine pollution prevention, and reiterating that the two countries have agreed to cooperate within mechanisms such as the Indian Rim Union and the Indian Ocean Commission. Germany attaches equal importance to the role of India, which it calls the “indo-Pacific” regional and nuclear Powers, believes that India will soon become the world's fourth economic power, and stresses the need to base German-Indian relations on multi-disciplinary cooperation and to promote joint German-Indian reform of the United Nations Security Council as a major element of its regional policy. For example, France, in its capacity as President of the European Union, held its first Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum on Cooperation in Paris in February 2022, in which it did not invite Pakistan, which is also a coastal country of the Indian Ocean, to participate, for reasons of French-Indian relations. The above approach is, of course, subjectively designed to serve the interests of the European powers themselves, but objectively puts India in a position of leverage, multiplicity, and profit. India’s strategic position is indeed more favourable than the complex situation in such countries as China and Russia, where there is a lot of doubt and even congestedness, and where countries in such regions as Iran and Pakistan are often marginalized. (iii) Limited synergy with the United States “Indo-Pacific Strategy” Greater European involvement in the Indian Ocean region has more complex implications for America’s “indo-Pacific strategy.” European powers, such as the British and the French, are all allies of the United States, with deep strategic convergence, and there is no fundamental contradiction between the Indian Ocean policy and the United States, whose contribution to the United States’ “indo-Pacific strategy” deserves great attention. On the one hand, the Indian Ocean policy of the major European countries has, to varying degrees, recognized the Chinese factor as a challenge and, despite its different formulations, the Chinese approach to prevention has remained consistent. The United Kingdom directly defines China as a “institutional competitor” and considers it a systemic challenge to the security, prosperity and values of the United Kingdom and its allies and partners. According to the French Ministry of Defence, the structural effects of the Chinese-American competition are the primary factor in shaping the geopolitical map of the Indo-Pacific, and China is seeking to use military force to redefine the balance. The French Indo-Pacific Strategy further defines “the rise in Chinese power and the growing expression of territorial claims” and “the rise in Chinese-American competition, tensions along the Chinese-Indian border and on the Korean peninsula” as the main strategic changes in the region. Germany’s Foreign Minister’s foreword to the Indo-Pacific Guidelines also views the strategic confrontation between China and the United States as one of the major trends in today’s world. Clearly, both the British and the French view the various China-related issues as destabilizing factors. On the other hand, the European powers attach great importance to cooperation with the United States and the Quad mechanism. Britain has been America’s strongest ally since the cold war. The value of the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States has been further highlighted since the British “Deo.” The British have publicly stated that the Anglo-American alliance is of paramount value, and that British-American relations are the most important bilateral relations. The French Government views the United States as a central partner in the Indo-Pacific region, stressing that France shares the same values as the United States of America, Japan and Australia, and that strategic partnerships with the four countries are essential for maintaining regional stability and deterring unilateral logic. To this end, France has actively promoted military cooperation with the US, Japan, and Australia, considering greater operational compatibility with the four countries as the primary means of maintaining strategic stability. Germany views the US as a “key partner.” IV. The challenges facing the major European countries involved in the Indian Ocean While the engagement of the major European countries in the Indian Ocean has progressed faster and received more attention, there are still a number of serious challenges behind strategic planning and visibility, which constrain the effectiveness and prospects of European countries'engagement in the Indian Ocean. (i) Limited resources available The cost of maintaining an effective overseas security presence in the long run is high, and resources are drained. Given the impact of the global financial crisis in 2008 and the European debt crisis in 2011, Europe’s larger economies are generally depressed, unemployment is high, and fiscal burdens are high. After 2011, the growth rate of the British economy rose from 1.4 per cent to 3 per cent in 2014 and then continued to decline to about 1.6 per cent; in France, from 0.3 per cent to 2.3 per cent in 2017, and in Germany, from 0.4 per cent in 2012 to 2.7 per cent in 2017, with a sharp drop of up to 1 per cent. By 2019, the British-French economy had grown by 1.67 per cent, 1.84 per cent and 1.05 per cent, respectively, and the economies of the three countries, which were hit by Covid-19 Pandemic, experienced a sharp contraction in 2020, falling to 9.396 per cent, 7.85 per cent and -4.570 per cent, respectively. Unemployment has also been severe in the major European countries. Unemployment has been declining steadily since 2009 in both the United Kingdom and Germany, but rose for the first time in 2020 as a warning sign. The unemployment rate in France has been higher than 8 per cent since 1984 (with the exception of 2007 and 2008), more than 11 per cent for seven consecutive years since 1993 (up to 12.59 per cent) and more than 10 per cent for three consecutive years since 2014. Against this background, there must be some objective difficulties for the major European countries to increase their security investment abroad. The outside world remains cautious about Britain’s claim to build a Middle East – Diego Garcia – Singapore axis by adding new bases in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific (the candidate is Singapore or Brunei) and returning to Diego Garcia. (ii) Multiple strategic directions are difficult to reconcile Europe’s major powers need to balance multiple strategic directions. While the Indo-Pacific region is indeed highly focused, it is by no means the only strategic direction for countries such as the British and the French. The European continent and its immediate vicinity have been the first strategic concern of European countries, particularly Germany and France, and the “Indian” region, including the Indian Ocean, cannot be compared to the European continent. In short, the “indo-Pacific” region is only a strategic sub-focus of German law, and the Indian Ocean is only part and not all of this. The Russian-Ukraine conflict has now escalated into Europe’s largest war after World War II, severely affecting the current European security system. The major European countries, in particular Germany and France, must focus their efforts and resources on prioritizing Ukraine and the follow-up crisis, and the strategic “condension” to Europe could become a major trend for some time to come, which would inevitably affect their strategic investment in the “indo-Pacific” region, including the Indian Ocean region. A typical example is the first European Union Ministerial Forum on Indo-Pacific Cooperation, held in Paris in February 2022, which was supposed to be a good opportunity for the major European countries to increase their influence in the Indian Ocean, and it is hoped that a series of policy measures will be followed up after the Conference. As expected, the crisis in Ukraine escalated into war during the conference, and the European powers were forced to devote themselves to it. As a result, while the entire conference was held as planned, the international impact was significantly reduced, and countries such as France and Germany had little time to take into account the follow-up measures to the conference. In addition to the European continent and India, the European powers have other strategic directions that need to be balanced. The United Kingdom’s “global British” vision was quickly launched after “de-Europe,” and its planning document devoted two pages to the “Indian-Ter” shift, but five pages to the positioning of Britain’s relations with the rest of the world. France’s diplomatic strategy has devoted much attention and energy to Africa, particularly to the French-speaking African region. In August 2014, the French army launched Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region of Africa, a multinational coalition against terrorism. Clearly, the French army’s involvement in Operation New Moon dunes alone has exceeded its military capacity in the Indian Ocean. So it is really very difficult for European powers to balance multiple strategic directions. (iii) Limited effectiveness of strategic coordination European powers’ involvement in the Indian Ocean’s policy measures, although somewhat compatible with the US “Indo-Pacific” strategy, is not entirely compatible with each other. The United Kingdom’s “de-Eurasia” has been eager to open up the diplomatic landscape globally, has not yet developed a systematic Indian-Pacific strategy document covering the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and its relative lack of power resources has limited substantive support to the US. For example, while the United States shares military facilities in Diego Garcia, there are only 40 to 50 British personnel, who are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the island, and thousands of United States personnel, who are in fact British and British, whose presence is symbolic. For its part, France clearly sees the Indo-Pacific region, which includes the Indian Ocean, at the heart of its strategy to establish a stable multipolar order, and believes that polarization will undermine the regional balance. This is a clear difference between the unipolar system pursued by the US or the one-size-fits-all Western system of the US. Moreover, France has included India, Australia, Japan, and ASEAN as partners with France’s shared vision (a commitment to an international order based on the rule of law) but has tended to exclude the US, almost directly criticizing it. Germany has clearly defined “anti-unipolar or bipolar” as its vital interest in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, emphasizing that “no country should be forced to choose sides or to fall into unilateral dependency” because bipolarism undermines the range of interests on which Germany relies. The differences between the European Powers and the United States in defining the geographical scope of the Indo-Pacific have also adversely affected their strategic coordination. “Indo-Pacific” areas, as defined by the United States, are virtually equivalent to the former Asia-Pacific+India: the United States National Security Strategy, published by the Trump Government in December 2017, defines “Indian-Pacific” as an area from the western coast of India to the eastern coast of the Pacific; while the United States-Indian-Pacific Strategy, published by the Biden Government in February 2022, defines “Indian-Pacific” as an area “extended to the Indian Ocean” in general terms, the Middle East and Africa are not mentioned at all in the list of subregions, and remains in fact focused on the Eastern Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific Ocean. The indicator is that, while the United States army changed the name “Pacific Command” to “Indian Command”, its jurisdiction remains unchanged and ends in the central Indian Ocean on the west side without continuing to extend to the west. This geographical definition, which focuses on the East Indian Ocean, differs from that of the major European countries. While the British and French describe the scope of the “indo-Pacific” differently, their actual policy actions are highly focused on the Western Indian Ocean, particularly the North-West Indian Ocean, with a marked increase in attention to the East Indian Ocean, where overall investment remains limited. Among the major European countries, France has the most complete strategic layout in the Indian Ocean, but its holistic design of the south-west, north-west, north-south-east and south-east also clearly demonstrates its strategic focus; cooperation with Indo-Australia in the development of the East Indian Ocean also shows that France does not intend to invest too much in the East Indian Ocean. France is actively engaged in a security and defence dialogue with the United States in Indo-Pacific, but it is mainly targeting the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, which France is most interested in. This is also quite different from American claims. There are also difficulties in strategic coordination between the three countries. The UK has distanced itself from the EU countries after “de-Eurasia,” although there is little practical collaboration in the name of cooperation. More importantly, the United Kingdom is much more motivated to follow the United States than it is to seek the collaboration of the European Union or the major European countries, and coordination between the United States and the United States often affects the interests of European partners. The sudden launch of the “Ocus” trilateral mechanism between the United Kingdom and the United States and Australia is typical. France has been pushing for cooperation between France and Australia in recent years, and the French Partnership in India has specifically given top priority to Australia’s cooperation and the Franco-Australian trilateral dialogue mechanism, ranking even better than ASEAN and the European Union. With the active support of France, the three-State mechanism held two consecutive events (including a ministerial meeting in May) in the first half of 2021, and the announcement in September 2021 that France had previously negotiated a multi-billion-dollar submarine contract with Australia came about only after the three countries had negotiated an agreement to communicate with France at the same time with the United States and the United States of America. This practice, which is totally hidden from France when important interests are involved, not only severely undermines its economic interests, but also its international prestige and political credibility. It naturally provokes strong French discontent, forcing the latter to protest by cancelling the forthcoming meeting of the British and French Ministers of Defence (Ministers), recalling the Ambassador to the United States and the Ambassador to Australia. France, which had been so inspired, had even revised the French Indo-Pacific Strategy and, in its latest edition in February 2022, no longer listed a separate partnership with Australia and the French-Indian-Australian trilateral mechanism, emphasizing that relations with Australia would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis in the future. Even in France and Germany, where there are many common languages, it is difficult to truly coordinate their Indian Ocean strategy. Both countries have offered to promote the EU’s “Indian and Pacific” strategy covering the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. With the joint facilitation of the two countries, the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union issued the report on the EU Indo-Pacific Cooperation Strategy in April 2021, which was formally approved by the European Commission in September. However, the actual synergy between the security forces of the two countries in the Indian Ocean remains low and ineffective, with Germany planning to send the “Hamburg” destroyer across the Indian Ocean via Réunion and, finally, unable to travel due to the epidemic. (iv) Complex challenges faced by strategic support points The involvement of the major European countries in the situation in the Indian Ocean requires the use of a large number of strategic support points, which often face complex challenges, some of which are difficult, and whose strategic underpinnings are increasingly uncertain. The question of the legal status of Diego Garcia is one of the major challenges facing the United Kingdom and the United States. Mauritius has been demanding the return of Britain to the entire Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia. Moreover, since the late 1990s, the First Nations of the Chagos Archipelago and their descendants began to seek the right to return to Diego Garcia, which was overturned by the British Government in 2008 on appeal to the House of Lords following a 2000 British court ruling that the 1971 ban on the return of the First Nations was unlawful. In 2017, the United Nations General Assembly formally requested the International Court of Justice to assess whether Mauritius had completed decolonization in accordance with the law and the consequences of British rule over Diego Garcia. In its decision of February 2019, the International Court of Justice found that Mauritius had not completed the decolonization process in accordance with the law and recommended that the United Kingdom should return Diego Garcia to it as soon as possible. The uncoerciveness of this recommendatory decision, which still constitutes considerable political and moral pressure, is particularly ironic at a time when the United Kingdom and the United States have repeatedly advocated the so-called “rule-based order” and respect for international law. France’s strategic poles in the south-west Indian Ocean are not without challenges. France has long argued with the Comoros over its affiliation to the island of Mayotte, whose dispute escalated markedly in 2018, and large-scale civil protests in the Comoros, strongly advocating that the island of Mayotte is Comorian territory. There are also territorial disputes between France and Madagascar, Mauritius and the Comoros over the attribution of parts of the islands of the French Indian Ocean. These long-standing disputes not only create political uncertainty, but also limit the maritime security situation within the French zone and objectively weaken its political and security influence. V. CONCLUSION An assessment of the prospects for greater European involvement in the Indian Ocean requires a combination of pros and cons, as well as internal and diplomatic constraints, and the following conclusions can be drawn from the preliminary assessment. First, Europe’s Great Congress has further strengthened the integration of Indian Ocean policy with the Indian-Pacific Strategy. A stand-alone Indian Ocean strategy would have to avoid the vigilance of Indian-Indian countries, particularly the major powers in the region, but would have to face the dilemma of inadequate resources, limited investment, and flexibility to deploy resources between the traditional Asia-Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is probably in the light of these dilemmas that the major European countries rarely single out their Indian Ocean strategy, but rather integrate it into the broader framework of the Indian-Pacific Strategy. Only France seems to be better able to integrate Indian-Indian policy with the Indian-Pacific Strategy, based on a clearer definition of its distribution of interests, strategic considerations, and policy measures. The British and German discourse on their own Indian Ocean policy remains fragmented and fragmented, often using the concept of “indo-Pacific” in general and vague terms. Given the late start of the development of the “indo-Pacific” document between the two countries, and the incomplete strategic layout of the Indian Ocean region, this should be seen as a transition. Secondly, while the major European countries have sought to further their involvement in the Indian Ocean, they have generally had little to do in recent years, and more attention will be paid to a pragmatic and integrated strategy. The economy of the world economy, particularly that of the major European countries, has suffered from a long period of depression, with Covid-19 Pandemic and the crises of Ukraine compounding in the last two years. In the short term, the major European countries will face even greater constraints in investing their resources in the Indian Ocean. But, precisely in order to make up for the lack of investment, the big European countries will have a greater incentive to strengthen policy planning and coordination, strengthen high-end meetings, joint statements, and ship visits, among other things, with visible advocacy effects, and actively create a greater awareness-raising potential, using this soft strategy to compensate for the limited capacity of hard inputs. Finally, India has implicitly become the focus of the partnership among the major European countries in the Indian Ocean, and its strategic position will be further enhanced. India’s strength is not the strongest compared to that of the major European countries. But India, which is located in the middle of the northern Indian Ocean, has an extremely favourable geographical location, is rapidly but far from being able to effectively crowd out European powers, and has the same ideological and political system as the West, and is generally more flexible in its foreign policy, so that countries such as the British and the French see it as the most appropriate partner. At a time when the Ukrainian crisis has severely held the energies of the major Powers, there is a greater possibility for the major European Powers to encourage India and to promote more Indian initiative as the lead sheep in the Indian Ocean region, thereby maintaining the balance of power in the Indian Ocean region and, in particular, resisting Chinese influence into the Indian Ocean. The situation in the Indian Ocean Indian Strategy This post is edited as follows: Poster: Ideas of Love (http://www.aisixiang.com), column: Academies of Heaven > International Relations > International Organizations and Cooperation Link to this paper: http://www.aisixiang.com/data/134884.html Source: International Studies, 2022, 5 issues Enter an e-mail address in the box, separated by a semi-accompanied comma (,) between multiple emails.

Note: This is a translated version of the Chinese news media article. A mature and nuanced reading is suggested.

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