Over the past decade, a concept called the “Indo-Pacific” has replaced the late 20th century “Asia-Pacific” as a central frame of reference for strategy and external policy. Definitions vary. Some cast the Indo-Pacific as a neutral term for the connectivity of a two-ocean region. Others depict it more as loaded code for balancing or even allegedly containing Chinese power through coalition building across a larger regional canvas. In any case, many nations and international institutions have adopted variants of the Indo-Pacific as a framing concept for strategy and external policy. This pattern has extended beyond early advocates such as Quad partners Australia, Japan, India, and the United States to include the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union. Although the Indo-Pacific is often associated particularly with Japan and its influential prime minister, the late Abe Shinzo, in fact Australia was the first country to formally recognize the Indo-Pacific as its regional security environment.3 As a fellow middle power and independent-minded U.S. ally, with its own geopolitical complexities to navigate, Australia provides an illuminating example for South Korea as it operationalizes Indo-Pacific strategy.
|Published - 2023