If there is one place in the world that we need to keep our eyes on for a better understanding of the dynamics of international affairs in 2020, it is the Indo-Pacific region. Here are four reasons why.
1. The Indo-Pacific is hard to define
Politically, the Indo-Pacific is still a contested construct in the making. Australia and the United States seem to share a similar geographic view on the Indo-Pacific, i.e. the original Asia-Pacific region plus India. However, Japanese and Indian geographic understandings are much broader, including two continents—Asia and Africa— and across two oceans—the Pacific and Indian Oceans. For the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the concrete boundary of the region does not matter as long as the association retains its centrality in the future regional architecture.
China is a key player in the Indo-Pacific region, no matter how the geographical boundary is defined. However, China is reluctant to register itself to the Indo-Pacific. So far, no Chinese official document has used the term Indo-Pacific. In practice, however, China’s economic and strategic ambitions have straddled across the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, as we can see from the extensive scope of its Belt and Road Initiative. In other words, China has politically entered the Indo-Pacific without acknowledging it officially.
Please click here to read the full “Four reasons why the Indo-Pacific matters in 2020” published at Oxford University Press, written by Associate Professor Li Mingjiang and Griffith Asia Institute member, Professor Kai He.