After Trump’s first Asia tour in November 2017, the Indo-Pacific as a new East Asian strategic setting has begun to play an increasingly relevant role at the geopolitical level. In recent weeks, debates around the Indo Pacific have gained new momentum, especially after a multi-nation tour of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the region, and the renaming of the Hawaii-based US Pacific Command (PACOM) as the US Indo-Pacific Command (IPACOM). First conceived as a strategic concept to connect India to the Pacific Ocean through closer relations with Japan, the "Indo-Pacific" was then put aside in favor of the rising “Asia-Pacific” idea and the associated American “Pivot to Asia.” However, the US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership and Trump announcing, and promoting, increased U.S. involvement in the Indo-Pacific region have shifted the focus again to the original geopolitical framework. Today, a growing number of countries – including European countries – are showing an interest in playing a role in this strategic, and economic, theatre. Is East Asia embarking on a road to an overall geopolitical transformation? What influence will the Indo-Japanese agreement exert in this new strategic setting? What about the role, and specific interests, of Australia? And how will China respond both at the geopolitical and strategic levels to what it complains is an Indo-Japanese encirclement strategy?
Australia and the Indo-Pacific: A Region in Search of a Strategy, or a Strategy in Search of a Region?