Discussion Papers

UP CIDS DISCUSSION PAPER 2019-04

Structural Change and Power Balancing in the Indo-Pacific:
An Australian View of the Region’s Alliance Politics

Author

Program

William Tow

Strategic Studies Program

Abstract

This discussion paper provides an analytical overview of the structural changes occurring in international relations and its strategic implications to power relations in the Indo-Pacific. It explores the changing framework in the region, as strategic studies scholars and political actors shifted from the Asia-Pacific to the Indo-Pacific region as a term of reference. The change is more than a geographical one; it is essentially about vision and ideas. The notion for connectivity that the new regional framework presents positive economic and political opportunities for major powers within and outside the region. Nonetheless, such expansive frameworks are also hampered by structural characteristics, mainly the changing nature of the threats in the international order that are driven by systemic changes in domestic factors. These forces come in play when a sufficient number of the domestic populace begin to feel alienated or marginalized, and the resulting changes have implications for the conduct of international relations.