Strategic Reports

The Struggle for Power and Influence in the Indo-Pacific


The 2019 Strategic Dialogue of the Institute for Regional Security was held in Bowral over the weekend of 13 to 15 September 2019. This was the thirteenth occasion of this annual 1.5 track dialogue which was conducted under Chatham House rules.

The participants were senior officials and military officers of the Governments of Australia, Japan and the United States; researchers from a variety of think tanks from all three nations; together with a range of policy experts. India declined to participate officially but was represented by an experienced former diplomat.

The objective of the 2019 Strategic Dialogue was to identify and discuss the salient features of the rapidly changing strategic circumstances in the Indo-Pacific with a view to develop policy options to deal with this environment both nationally and together. The intention is that each participant will take these recommendations back to their individual organisations to inform the policy decisions of their governments.

The subject of the dialogue was the struggle for power and influence in the Indo-Pacific. The term ‘struggle’ was chosen instead of the more usual ‘competition’ in recognition that competition connotates activities conducted with rules and a referee whereas this does not seem to apply to the strategic environment of the Indo-Pacific today.

The first activity of the dialogue was small group workshops to consider the possible and likely strategic environment of the Indo-Pacific in 2035. The aim of this strategic scan was to provide all participants with a shared understanding of the range of options to prepare them for the more detailed discussions that followed. These sessions covered the following topics:

  • The geo-economic environment of the Indo-Pacific in 2035.
  • Political warfare in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Hybrid warfare in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Protecting the South West Pacific and South East Asia.
  • Deterring and defeating authoritarian regimes.

This report of proceedings is intended to capture the general theme and tone of the conversations and does not represent the official view of any of the Governments of Australia, Japan or the United States. The aim is to share the views and opinions of a well-informed group to contribute to public discussion of the emerging strategic environment of the Indo-Pacific. Any mistakes by omission or inclusion are entirely the responsibility of the author.

Follow and engage with The Institute

The Institute is an independent, not-for-profit, charitable organisation. It holds Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status under Australian Government regulations. It also holds the status of an Approved Research Institute (ARI) under such regulations. Donations to the Institute are tax deductible.

Follow and engage with The Institute on LinkedIn