You are here

Vikrant Kumar Edara Asked: What does the term “Indo-Pacific” signifies, as distinct from Asia-Pacific?

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Abhijit Singh replies: ‘Indo-Pacific’ has lately entered the geo-strategic discourse as a substitute for the more established term ‘Asia-Pacific’. The two terms, however, are fundamentally different.

    The ‘Asia Pacific’ relates to that part of Asia which lies in the Pacific Ocean. It is an idea proposed and supported by Asia’s Pacific powers who sought a term to describe their common region. The Asia Pacific, therefore, has three major constituents: north-east Asia, south-east Asia and Oceania (South Western Pacific). Despite the nomenclature suggesting to the contrary, India is not a part of the region. The Asia-Pacific is more of an economic conception, rather than a security related notion. Since the late 1980s, it has been popular as a zone of emerging markets that have been experiencing rapid economic growth. The only multilateral institution that effectively represents the Asia Pacific, therefore, is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), which does not include India.

    The Indo-Pacific, on the other hand, is an integrated theatre that combines the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and the land masses that surround them. Even though it is still an evolving concept, most analysts see it as an idea that captures the shift in power and influence from the West to the East. Its geographical expanse is still undefined but it is said to range from the coast of East Africa, across the Indian Ocean, to the Western Pacific, including countries like Japan and Australia. It is both a strategic as well as an economic domain comprising important sea-lines of communication that connect the littorals of the two oceans. Since it is primarily a maritime space, the Indo-Pacific is associated with maritime security and cooperation.