Director, Asian Studies Center
Jeff Smith is Director of The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center.
The U.S. government should develop a coherent and coordinated strategy for South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The United States has vital interests at stake in the region, which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the vast Indian Ocean. The region has become an increasingly vital theater of competition with China, America’s premier interstate rival. In recent years, Beijing’s expanding footprint in the region has been a cause for growing alarm and a catalyst for the transformation of U.S.–India ties and the revival of the Quad group joining Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. Preventing China from asserting hegemonic influence over South Asia and the IOR represents a U.S. vital interest.
Given vital U.S. interests in the region, the U.S. government must develop a coherent and coordinated strategy for South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Though the region has not received sufficient attention from policymakers, its growing importance is undeniable and it is a new theater of competition with China.
The U.S. strategy must prioritize protecting the homeland; preserving U.S. military access; strengthening India-U.S. ties; and countering malign Chinese activity.