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Working paper

Winds of change: Pacific Islands and the shifting balance of power in the Pacific Ocean

World politics Border security Defence Asia-Pacific Indo-Pacific Region

As China becomes more powerful, it is challenging American regional military predominance in Asia, but also in the western Pacific and increasingly in the Indian Ocean. In response to this challenge, the US and its allies are investing in 'offshore balancing' strategies, which entail greater security cooperation amongst maritime democracies in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. As a corollary to these strategies, new mental maps of the region have been drawn up. Increasingly, America and its allies are replacing the concept of Asia-Pacific with that of the Indo-Pacific. More than a simple change in nomenclature, this shift is part of an intensifying 'hearts and minds' contest for influence, the likes of which has not been seen since the end of the Cold War. This paper is concerned with the implications of this shift in strategic thinking for Pacific island states.

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SGDIA Working Paper No.10