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Indo-Pacific research group

The complexity of Indo-Pacific and its rising importance as a key pillar of global geopolitics makes it necessary to engage in academic reflection on the concept. This research group on the Indo-Pacific approaches this task from a multidisciplinary and sectoral perspective, with the aim to contribute to the understanding of regional dynamics and to produce academic research that is usable by UK and European policy makers.

Our key areas of interest include the geo-strategy of the Indo-Pacific, and China's position in it, the vision of individual resident actors in relation to the US-China strategic competition, their vision of the Indo-Pacific and the role of non-resident actors (essentially UK and Europeans) in it.

Find out more about our work in our research aims and objectives.

The Indo-Pacific as a key pillar of western foreign policies

The “Indo-Pacific” has emerged as a key strategic concept organising the immense space that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Since Shinzo Abe's Japan showed the way as early as 2007, western actors including the United States (US), Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and the European Union (EU) have incorporated this concept in their strategic thinking and elaborated concrete policies towards the region. The adoption of this concept by both, regional and extra-regional powers, has evolved as a response to China's growing influence in the region.

While these actors share a common view of the Indo-Pacific, their concrete understanding of the concept vary from country to country, generally along three key axes. First, these actors have varying attitudes towards Beijing and their strategies differ on how explicitly they articulate their concerns. While the US is more confrontational, others have avoided singling out Beijing for fear of economic or military retaliation. Second, another key difference arises as to whether these countries prioritise diplomatic, economic and scientific cooperation, aimed at forging closer ties with the region, or whether they focus on military engagement, thus following a balance of power logic. Third, countries differ on their preferred means for implementing their policies towards the region. Some actors have channelled their strategies through multilateral mechanisms, while others have relied on the creation of “minilateral” frameworks, such as AUKUS or the Quad, or on cooperation with key regional partners.