An idea whose time has come . . .
The Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), considered a vague concept until recently, seems to have now become the common framework for envisaging the Asia Pacific region. Although there are records of the term Indo-Pacific being used since the mid-1850s, Australia was the first country to openly redefine the region as encompassing both the Pacific and India Oceans as a single interconnected region, the Indo-Pacific, in 2013. Its term, significance, and its composition have been hotly debated around the world, reflecting the diversity of visions and interests for the Indo-Pacific region.
One region, many visions . . .
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe introduced his vision for FOIP at a speech in Nairobi in 2016, focusing on “freedom of navigation” and “the rule of law” and insisting that the oceans are spaces of public good that bring peace and prosperity for all. In November 2017, President Trump unveiled the U.S.’s vision at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit (APEC) in Hanoi, which was followed by the Department of Defense release of its Indo-Pacific Strategy Report in June 2019 and labelled China as a “revisionist power.” While both Japan and the United States share fundamental interests in Asia, Japan’s approach to the Free and Open Indo-Pacific is more inclusive and co-operative than the U.S. vision, which considers FOIP as a balancing tool against China.
Charting a common approach for FOIP . . .
As the Indo-Pacific strategic environment continues to evolve in unpredictable ways, and despite varying characterizations of FOIP, it is important for Canada and like-minded states to develop multilateral standards and strategies for engagement with the region. To that end, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, with the support of government and private sector partners, is hosting a two-day forum today and Thursday to provide a venue for informed scholarship and policy discussion to develop a strategy and response to regional issues surrounding the Indo-Pacific.
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: The Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Charting a Common Approach
- The Diplomat: Assessing the US Indo-Pacific Strategy Report
- War on the Rocks: Japan’s Indo Pacific Strategy