The United States must shape a five-nation triangular axis involving India to address the emerging set of concerns and maintain long-term stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, Michael Auslin, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, said on Monday.

In his key-note address at a panel discussion on ‘Maritime Safety and Security in the Asia Pacific,' hosted by the Center for Asia Studies and the US Consulate General, Chennai, Mr. Auslin said that it was time for the U.S. to move beyond the “hub-and-spoke” model, which had structured its alliances in Asia for over a half-century and formulate a strategy that considered the sweeping arc — Japan-South East Asia-India — as one integrated region.

Mr. Auslin advocated an outer triangle linking the U.S. with major allies, Japan, South Korea, Australia and India that could address geopolitical issues, set the security agenda and foster peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.

The geopolitically significant “inner triangle” centred on the lower South China Sea would link the U.S. with Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Singapore, and focus on freedom of navigation, development of maritime, air, and ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capabilities.

The new dynamic provided by these interlinked triangles could serve the interests of the U.S. and that of other countries in the Indo-Pacific better than reactive policies of maintaining status quo in the region, he said.

Stating that the advocacy of such a strategy was not aimed at isolating or containing China, Mr. Auslin said the concentric triangle concept would be better suited to respond to emerging challenges and sustaining liberal, democratic and free market conditions in the Indo-Pacific.

He, however, noted that many of the insecurities among countries in the region coincided with China's rise and its increasingly assertive role on issues concerning territorial waters. In fact, the fears voiced by many countries on China's growth and actions in the region during the ASEAN Regional Forum some time ago were warning signs that in an environment of mistrust economic cooperation could give way to conflict in the region.

In his presidential address, Andrew T. Simkin, US Consul General, said the scope of Indo-US maritime engagements had grown exponentially over the years in the spheres of trade, joint naval operations and coast guard cooperation.

Inaugurating the discussion, S. P. Sharma, Commander, Coast Guard Region (East), said that though it was not possible for any single State to handle the complexity of maritime issues, security cooperation was at a nascent stage.

Maritime stability necessitates continuing engagement of all countries, long-term cooperation, resolution of sovereignty issues and addressing problems of burden-sharing and capacity building, he said.

S. Narayan, president, Center for Asia Studies, and R. S. Vasan, Head, Strategy and Security Studies, participated.

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