Geopolitics by Other Means: The Indo-Pacific
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Geopolitics by Other Means: The Indo-Pacific
24 May @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
The Asia-Pacific has become the Indo-Pacific region as the US, Japan, Australia and India have decided to join forces and scale-up their political, economic and security cooperation. The message coming from Washington, Tokyo, Canberra and Delhi is clear: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is no longer the only game in town and Beijing’s policymakers better get ready for fierce competition. Japan’s ongoing and future “quality infrastructure” policies and investments in the Indo-Pacific in particular make it very clear that Tokyo wants a (much) bigger slice of the pie of infrastructure investments in the region. China’s territorial expansionism in the South China Sea and its increasing interests and presence in countries in South Asia have done their share to help the above-mentioned four countries expand their security and defence ties. Who will have the upper hand in shaping and defining Asian security and providing developing South and Southeast Asia with badly-needed infrastructure: the US and Japan together with its allies or the increasingly assertive and uncompromising China’s BRI?
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to a discussion with prof. Axel Berkofsky and Dr. John Hemmings about the geopolitics by other means in the Asia-Pacific region.
Axel Berkofsky is Professor at the University of Pavia, Italy and Senior Associate Research Fellow at the Milan-based Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI). Axel Berkofsky is also Executive Committee Board Member at the Stockholm-based European Japan Advanced Research Network (EJARN) and Research Affiliate at the European Institute of Japanese Studies at the Stockholm School of Economics. Previously, Dr. Berkofsky was Senior Policy Analyst and Associate Policy Analyst at the Brussels-based European Policy Centre (EPC), Research Fellow at the Brussels-based European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS). Axel Berkofsky has published numerous papers, articles and essays in journals, newspapers and magazines and has lectured and taught at numerous think tanks, research institutes and universities in Europe and Asia. His research interests are amongst others Japanese and Chinese foreign and security policies, Chinese history, Asian security and EU-Asia relations.
Dr. John Hemmings is the Director of the Asia Studies Centre and Deputy Research Director at the Henry Jackson Society. He is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. His research focuses on China, Japan, the Korea’s and security and foreign affairs in the Indo-Pacific. Prior to HJS, he worked in the Asia Programme at the Royal United Services Institute. He has a doctorate in international relations from the London School of Economics and writes for the Telegraph, the Interpreter, and the National Interest, among others.
A sandwich lunch will be provided.
On Friday 24th May 2019, the Henry Jackson Society was honoured to welcome Axel Berkofsky, currently Professor at the University of Pavia in Italy and Senior Associate Research Fellow at ISPI, to discuss concerns and circumstances pertaining to the Indo-Pacific region. The stimulus for this talk was the recent release of an ISPI report titled Geopolitics by Other Means: The Indo-Pacific Reality, edited by Berkofsky and featuring the Chair of and speaker at this event, Dr. John Hemmings, Director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society
Dr. John Hemmings commenced the event by noting both the calibre of the key speaker, Axel Berkofsky, and the general expertise within the audience. He then passed over to Berkofsky to begin the main addresses.
Axel Berkofsky began by acknowledging that, when we talk of the Indo-Pacific region, we are mainly referring to the US, Japan, Australia and India, but must also pay attention to the elephant in the room, China, when discussing the region in any context. He also noted that the concept of the Indo-Pacific first came into play in 2007, when President Abe of Japan decided to enlarge the concept of the Asia-Pacific to include the Indian Ocean. After this, Berkofsky discussed the content of his report, in confirming that the QUAD countries of the Indo-Pacific have indeed pursued policies of quadrilateral security cooperation that likely seek to contain, deter and balance China. Therefore, China may be appropriate in its feeling of being contained and encircled.
Axel Berkofsky proceeded to discuss China’s current activities in the South China Sea. For example, recognising that China is building military and civilian activities on disputed islands, despite a 2016 ruling by the International Court of Arbitration that China’s territorial claims are invalid. He then noted that, simultaneously, the US is conducting Freedom of Navigation operations, but conceded that these aren’t particularly impactful. Berkofsky importantly spoke of Japan’s current actions too, identifying that Japan is engaged in building quality infrastructure throughout Asia, perhaps as a counter-initiative to China’s own infrastructure development, and also in expanding its military ties with India and Australia.
This event was highly topical, with Berkofsky also mentioning that the EU is not doing enough when it comes to confronting issues in the Indo-Pacific and offering some of his own recommendations.
Dr. John Hemmings then discussed, in greater detail, the US-China relationship as it presently is, how those countries in the Indo-Pacific are reacting to that altering relationship and what the UK-EU role is going forward. He finished by asking for Berkofsky’s own opinion on whether the EU will ‘snuggle up’ to those in the QUAD or whether it will keep its distance.
After Berkofsky confirmed that there has been some kind of minimal shift in EU policy, the discussion was opened up to the audience for questions and remarks.
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