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From Hollywood to Bollywood? Recasting Australia’s Indo/Pacific strategic geography

By Andrew Phillips

Australia’s strategic geography is being revolutionised. China and India’s rising maritime power, coupled with a Eurasia-wide ‘connectivity revolution’, is drawing together two formerly disparate theatres: the Asia–Pacific and the Indian Ocean region.

This report argues against the Indo-Pacific idea and presents the case for a more regionally differentiated ‘Indo/Pacific’ alternative. The hyphen at the heart of the Indo-Pacific aggregates two distinct regional security orders that have differed widely in their historical evolution and that today present different challenges and regional order-building opportunities for Australia.

By contrast, an Indo/Pacific strategic geography explicitly differentiates the Asia–Pacific from the Indian Ocean region and calibrates Australia’s strategies for regional engagement accordingly.

The Asia–Pacific and the Indian Ocean region thus present increasingly interconnected—but still durably distinct—security orders. For this reason, Australia should pursue a regionally differentiated ‘triple track’ strategy of order-building.