Chinese Expanded Perceptions of the Region and Its Changing Attitudes Toward the Indo-Pacific: a Hybrid Vision of the Institutionalization of the Indo-Pacific
The existing literature on the Indo-Pacific has largely focused on how and why the USA, Japan, Australia, India, and Indonesia have promoted the strategic concept of the Indo-Pacific, and how China has rejected it in the domain of maritime security. What has been overlooked, however, are dramatically expanded Chinese perceptions of the region and changing and complex Chinese attitudes and responses toward the Indo-Pacific. This essay aims to fill this gap by demonstrating how China has coopted certain components of the Indo-Pacific in its geoeconomic hegemonic project. This can be partially explained by unfolding and expanding Chinese perceptions of the region, characterized by geoeconomics and maritime/continental hybridity. This paper brings a missing perspective to the debate by highlighting China’s evolving, complex, and multifaceted approaches regarding the Indo-Pacific. It also offers a conceptual tool of a hybrid vision of the institutionalization of the Indo-Pacific for the enterprise of regional cooperation.
KeywordsThe Indo-Pacific The Quad Belt and Road Initiative Chinese perceptions of the region Shanghai Cooperation Organization China-CEE cooperation
The author would like thank Professors Chengxin Pan, Mark Beeson and Kai He for their constructive comments and suggestions; Matt Hood and Tom Barber for their research assistance, and the participants for their critical questions on my keynote speech at PHISO International Conference, March 22–24, 2018, Davao City, Philippines.
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