The Indo-Pacific is the new site of strategic competition. As tensions between the United States and China rise, so too is the significance of the region for major powers. Various players have, in the last couple of years, released their respective Indo-Pacific strategies in response to China’s relentless and assertive moves in the spheres of economics, security, and society. Many of these activities are considered gray zone operations.
Defined as activities below the threshold of war, the gray zone manifests as economic coercion, the use of proxy forces like maritime militias, and influence operations, among others. However, the fact that these activities are insufficiently provocative to trigger military responses, the term has become a convenient rug under which an indefinite number of issues can be swept. As the recipient of gray zone operations is constrained to respond, the enemy, meanwhile, has achieved its objectives. In this context, the enemy can keep on using gray zone tactics to get to its ultimate endpoint slowly but surely. Hence, it is useful to question the utility of the term gray zone.
Security Challenges invites scholars and practitioners to reflect upon the concept of the gray zone and its impact on issue areas and implications for states, non-state actors, or regional organizations. Contributors are encouraged to write on one or two of the topics below. Both normative discussions and empirical studies are welcome. Papers are expected to have an empirical link to the Indo-Pacific and offer policy implications and recommendations for the region.
Preference will be for papers on:
- Trade agreements
- Belt and Road Initiative
- South China Sea
- Fisheries management
- Cyber security and infrastructure
- Misinformation, disinformation, malinformation
- Track 1.5 and 2 dialogues
- Code of Conduct
Papers must be submitted in English, but versions may be submitted in the national language(s) of the author if the paper is accepted, and once edited.