This post is a collection of notes from four speakers regarding ASEAN centrality in the Indo-Pacific.
The term “Indo-Pacific” has re-emerged in IR discourse as an alternative term for “Asia-Pacific”. However, it has been around since 2005, but only now has it become popular again since President Trump repeated it over and over again in his 2017 tour of Asia. This hints at a renewed US interest in Asia, which is likely due to China’s assertive behavior in both the Pacific and Indian Ocean Rim.
So, what is the Indo-Pacific? Is it simply another catchy buzzword or is it a real geopolitical construct that’s here to stay? If it’s here to stay, what’s the underlying narrative? Is it meant to denote an “inclusive” area where the interests of all countries within its scope are represented, or is it meant to represent the exclusive interests of a group of big guys? Does ASEAN have a say in this?
Present to speak were Prof. Raja Mohan from the Institute of South Asian Studies, Ridwan Djamaluddin from the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Dr. Evi Fitriani from the University of Indonesia, and Endy Bayuni, former chief editor of the Jakarta Post. I’ll write their main talking points, along with my commentary afterwards.
Just a quick note: I left my notebook at the seminar venue (stupid me), so I have to rely on memory and a bad recording of the talks. I should really invest in a proper voice recorder instead of relying on my phone.
You can also download some of the speaker’s PowerPoints here!