In recent times, the United States, Japan and Australia have all promoted extremely similar visions of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific as the central organizing concept to guide their efforts in the region. The concept is essentially a reaffirmation of the security and economic rules-based order which was cobbled together after the Second World War — especially as it relates to freedom of the regional and global commons such as sea, air and cyberspace, and the way nations conduct economic relations.
There are a number of noteworthy “updates” which include:
• A deliberate move from “Asia-Pacific” to “Indo-Pacific” as the primary geo-strategic and geo-economic area of interest and responsibility for the three countries;
• An increased emphasis on creating and sustaining a “balance of power” in favour of the rules-based order; and
• A greater emphasis on the liberal aspects of a preferred order including the importance of rule-of-law and limitations on how governments wield their power, and greater separation of political and strategic objectives on one hand with commercial activities on the other.
While operationalization of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept is at an early stage, trilateral strategic cooperation between the U.S., Japan and Australia is significant and quickly deepening. On the other hand, and with respect to misalignment and inconsistency, the economic policies of the Trump administration are causing considerable frustration.
Imprint: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute
Number of Pages: 44
Subject: International Relations
Copyright Year: 2018
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