Contest for the Indo-Pacific: Why China Won't Map the Future

    Research output: Book/ReportBook


    The 2020s have arrived in a cloak of uncertainty. The world sees a crowded horizon of risk, ranging from the Middle East to Asian waters, from democracies in crisis to the burning impacts of climate change. So a book making claims about the future is a gift to fate. But Contest for the Indo-Pacific is not just about today or tomorrow. It tilts the map to tell a history of international connection and contestation across the seas, tracing deep geopolitical currents to the 2030s and beyond. It ventures conclusions about the risks intrinsic to China’s hasty regional expansion, the promise of multipolarity as middle players partner up, the staying power of the United States despite Trump and beyond him, and the value of many nations standing firm to help Beijing find a settling point. These judgements should be continuously contested. Each day brings new evidence for and against. Amid their many travails, the middle players continue to gird themselves for resilience, solidarity and sovereignty. Japan, India and Australia strengthen their bonds with each other and in a quadrilateral with America. But how long can such middle players hold their ground without American leadership? In late 2019, the US establishment was still saying things allies and partners wanted to hear, with the State Department declaring a ‘shared Indo-Pacific vision’, underscoring multilateral institutions and economic development rather than military confrontation with China. Yet the president was somewhere else: skipping the East Asia Summit while demanding South Korea and Japan pay more for US military presence. By the start of 2020, Donald Trump was mired in the rites of impeachment. With a desperate eye on political survival, he was striking a trade truce with Beijing while risking open war with Iran. A different
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    PublisherLa Trobe University Press
    Number of pages310
    ISBN (Print)9781760641573
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

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