The Implications of the French, German and Dutch Indo-Pacific Strategies for the EU's Asia Policy
In November 2020, the Netherlands became the third European country to issue an Indo-Pacific strategy, falling in behind France (May 2018) and Germany (September 2020). The Dutch initiative exemplifies the growing interest in this notion, which was first put forward by Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzō in 2007, covering countries neighbouring the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Henceforward, other countries such as India, the United States or Australia developed their own Indo-Pacific visions, with some striking similarities. For instance, they all evince unwavering support to the promotion of the rule of law, economic prosperity, freedom of navigation, regional stability… The common denominator, however, mostly remains the rise of China.
Indo-Pacific strategies have often been depicted as counter-policies against Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aiming to contain its increasing assertiveness in the region. China regards most Indo-Pacific strategies as mere offshoots of former President Donald Trump’s China policy, as if the multiplication of such strategies heralded the shift to a new form of Cold War bipolarity. Setting aside the fact that Japan’s Indo-Pacific strategy was first elaborated some nine years before Mr. Trump took office and six years before the BRI was announced to the world, analyzing European strategies in this respect provides a good means of understanding how the idea of a renewed bipolarity is both simplistic and outdated. The rise of China is a geopolitical phenomenon with worldwide implications, which does not necessarily cleave the planet in half by alleg