The notion of an “Indo-Pacific” region with important strategic, economic and geopolitical implications has become increasingly popular in recent years. The concept has been promoted primarily by democratic countries in the region. The first to do so was Japan, emphasizing ideas of open navigation and trade, a rules based order, connectivity and peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
Since the presidency of Obama, the interest of the U.S. in the region has grown, but it was under the Trump administration that the Indo-Pacific concept was fully embraced, resulting in an official strategy for the region. For the U.S., developing Indo-Pacific strategies is primarily aimed at responding to China’s growing political and economic influence in the region, and the country has looked for its regional allies to join this approach.
Although several more states and groups of countries, including the Netherlands, Australia, India, France and Germany as well as ASEAN and the EU, have indeed developed visions for the Indo-Pacific, they basically contain their own priorities and views on the region. This adds to a complexity of diverging perspectives and agendas for the Indo-Pacific.
Considering the heightened Dutch and broader European interest and focus on the Indo-Pacific region, the LeidenAsiaCentre has initiated efforts to systematically map and compare the diverging views of involved actors. This project aims to improve the understanding among the general public and policy makers in the Netherlands and Europe of the position and involvement of different countries, the issues that are at stake, and the agenda that various actors pursue.
LeidenAsiaCentre researcher Matt Ferchen has written the first report in a series of publications and workshops on the topic, titled “European Indo-Pacific Strategies in Comparative Perspective“.