25 January 2018
The Indo-Pacific has become the consensus term for the Trump administration to address the region widely known as the Asia-Pacific. However, the United States is not the principal driver behind this recently popularised concept. Instead, look to Japan, India, and the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor to understand the Indo-Pacific.
President Donald Trump wrapped up his first year of presidency with the all-important tour of the Asia-Pacific. Despite the novelty and unorthodox nature that have become so characteristic of his presidency, it was, by and large, an unexceptional visit by a sitting American president. He visited alliance partners, spoke out against North Korea, bolstered relations with China, and attended the 31st ASEAN summit in Manila. The itinerary could have been a carbon copy of any past presidential visit over the past two and half decades.
Amidst the banality, there was one conspicuous change. The familiar words Asia-Pacific were hardly, if ever, mentioned. Instead, the region was greeted with a new term: the Indo-Pacific. It was a clear signal that the United States wanted to not only demonstrate commitment to the region, but also expand its interests to the Indian Ocean. As of now, this is purely a cosmetic change with little import, especially in its current state. For any real understanding of the Indo-Pacific concept, we must look, not to the US, but to Japan to find anything of substance.
… Harry Sa is a Senior Analyst with the United States Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 30/01/2018