Franco-German Observatory of the Indo-Pacific
The concept of the “Indo-Pacific” would first be used by strategic thinkers in India and Australia from around 2005. It was then subsequently picked up by the governments in New Delhi and in Canberra. These early adopters were followed by Japan, whose long-serving Prime Minister Shinzō Abe had already spoken in 2007 about the confluence of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, with policy-relevant ideas crystallising later around the idea of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” In the United States, the Indo-Pacific entered the foreign policy lexicon in 2010, in the context of the US “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region. Under the Donald Trump administration, the US mainstreamed the “free and open Indo-Pacific” as a policy concept during a tour of the president to the region in 2017. It then adopted, in 2018, a national-security strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, and renamed its former Pacific Command the “United States Indo-Pacific Command.”
A number of European countries, beginning with France, have also embraced this Indo-Pacific terminology. On 2 May 2018, at the headquarters of the Royal Australian Navy at Garden Island (Sydney), President Emmanuel Macron presented the French strategy in this region. The latter was then elaborated in a French Foreign Ministry policy paper. In October 2020, the German Foreign Ministry published a similar policy paper outlining its own vision for the region. A month later, the Dutch Foreign Ministry published its version too. Moreover, the United Kingdom government has heralded a “pivot to the Indo-Pacific” as part of its quest for a “Global Britain” emerging out of Brexit.
Unfortunately, few Westerners – and particularly Europeans – have sought to understand the views and approaches of actors within the Indo-Pacific itself. The Franco-German Observatory of the Indo-Pacific seeks to fill this vacuum. There is a need to better understand especially the vital link between domestic political developments in these countries and their implications for regional dynamics in the wider Indo-Pacific.
The Franco-German Observatory will invite key actors from the Indo-Pacific to present their vision of the region, how they conceive of it geo-strategically and the place of China, the US, and Europe within this framework. We look forward to debating questions of economic interdependence and independence, of trade and investment, and the expectations the countries of the Indo-Pacific might have towards the ‘West’ in general, and Europe, in particular’.
Thursday, 8 April, 9.30-10.30 am (CET) | 3.30-4.30 pm (Singapore).
Speaker: Prof. Dr. C. Raja Mohan is an Indian academic, journalist and foreign policy analyst. He is the Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.
Chairs & Moderators: Prof. Dr. Amrita Narlikar is the President of the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), and Professor at the Universität Hamburg. Dr. Christophe Jaffrelot is a Senior Research Fellow at Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales (CERI-CNRS) who teaches at Sciences Po Paris and is Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at King’s College London.
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