Pivoting the map: Australia's Indo-Pacific system

5 Dec 2012

This paper argues that the concept of an 'Indo-Pacific' best captures the strategic environment Australia finds itself in.

This concept better recognises the major economic, security and identity challenges faced by Australia. It also places Australia in a prime position to involve itself in the development of the region. Finally, Medcalf explores the surprisingly longstanding history of the concept, and highlights its policy relevance for Australia.

Policy recommendation:

Australia’s Indo-Pacific defence diplomacy should maintain a strengthened alliance with the United States and partnerships with others including India, Indonesia and Japan alongside an improved security relationship with China. Australia is in every sense well positioned to take the initiative as a hub for minilateral security diplomacy involving key Indo-Pacific powers the United States, China, India, Japan and Indonesia. This would involve parallel tracks and instances of enhanced security dialogue, exercises and operational co-ordination with different combinations of these and other countries, sometimes including China, and varying in function and levels of intensity. Much would depend on those nations’ capabilities, interests, readiness to contribute and willingness to help shape and abide by rules and norms for regional and especially maritime security.

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