In its current form, the Indo-Pacific construct was mooted by Japan in 2007. It was a geographical entity that spanned two massive oceans – the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Over the next decade, the meaning of the Indo-Pacific evolved to accommodate a changing strategic mindset (Quad 2.0). The Quad, comprising the US, India, Japan and Australia, has transformed the original Indo-Pacific geographic notion (Quad 1.0) to represent a more Western-centric approach, conditioned by China’s escalating economic and military strength and assertions. China and many countries in the Southeast Asian region perceive it as an exclusive concept that isolates them. The Indo-Pacific concept encompasses the notion of shifting dynamics of partnerships and alliances, and ideals based on universalism. This chapter discusses an alternative interpretation of the Indo-Pacific, away from its current Western-centric notion. It suggests that the existing idea serves the geopolitical, security and economic interests of Western-specific regional constructs, at the expense of Chinese and some Southeast Asian interests. It also suggests that there are deliberate attempts to silence non-Western styles of regional cooperation that have defined maritime Southeast Asia throughout history. The chapter concludes with a suggestion to re-define the Indo-Pacific idea, to include the engagement of China, while recognising the centrality of Southeast Asia as the cornerstone of the geopolitical construct.
Keywords: Indo-Pacific, regionalisation, alternative international relations theory, critical geopolitics