An excellent primer on emerging power struggles in our region.
How does the world balance China's emergence as a global super-power? What are the risks ahead? How do nation states dilute China's hegemony and avoid capitulation to its interests? These and other pressing questions are examined in Rory Medcalf's elegant and absorbing Contest for the Indo-Pacific.
The Indo-Pacific, a term first used in the mid-nineteenth century, is making a comeback in government circles, its geographically inclusive language seen as a bulwark against Chinese aspiration. Currently the region, spreading across East Africa to West Asia, is a strategic puzzle as countries jostle for power and position.
Medcalf, an academic and former diplomat, argues that the so-called Indo-Pacific's middle players – Japan, Australia, Indonesia, India, etc. - could collectively hold China's power in check. By mid-century, the combined economic and defence capability of these middle powers will match China's. Cooperation and coordination in such an alliance would not be easy, but could bring substantial benefits.
Contest for the Indo-Pacific provides a nuanced and subtle assessment of emerging power struggles in the region, with a strong focus on China. Optimistic, yet realistic about the possibilities of war and conflict, this is an essential guide for anyone – politician, policy specialist or informed citizen - interested in the future of the region.
Contest for the Indo-Pacific: Why China Won't Map the Future, by Rory Medcalf. Published by La Trobe University Press $32.99
Review by Chris Saliba
This review first published at Books + Publishing. Click here.
North Melbourne Books