September 22, 2020Author: Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
One of the most significant geopolitical developments of the past decade in Asia has been the purposeful and political attempt by the region’s predominant democratic powers to redefine the ‘Asia-Pacific’ as the ‘Indo-Pacific.’
Far from a simple matter of semantics, this rectification of geographic ‘names’ represents a geospatial redesign – one led by Australia, India, Japan, and the United States to recognize and to deepen trans-regional ties between the Indian and Pacific Ocean areas and to deal more effectively with China’s ‘rise’ in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
Indeed, these Indo-Pacific ‘proponent states’ have internalized the Indo-Pacific super-region to such an extent that its geographic logic now informs their respective political, economic, and security engagements in Asia and beyond.
While Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S. have approached the Indo-Pacific through different strategic lenses, they have all introduced new whole-of-government strategies, or visions, to achieve their strategic aims within the region. There are marked divergences in how each proponent state has approached its Indo-Pacific strategy, with the notable commonality that all are committed to a ‘free’ and ‘open’ Indo- Pacific, however defined.