The Indo-Pacific is a strategic system encompassing the Indian and Pacific oceans, reflecting the expanding interests and reach of China and India as well as the enduring role of the US. The Lowy Institute's International Security program presents a weekly selection of links illuminating the changing security picture in this increasingly connected super-region.

  • Earlier this week the USS Lassen, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, conducted the first US 'Freedom of Navigation Operation' within 12 nautical miles of China's artificial islands in the South China Sea since 2012.
  • Lawfare Blog has a good breakdown of the different ways that the US Navy conducts these operations, and complications that can arise from them.
  • It's still unclear whether USS Lassen also conducted similar operations near islands claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam. It is clear that the Lassen was shadowed by two Chinese naval vessels, including one of China's most advanced guided-missile destroyers.
  • Josh Rogin in Bloomberg says the debate within the Obama Administration is now about what to do next.
  • Australia also 'delayed' planned naval exercises this week with China's South Sea Fleet.
  • Two competing op-eds in The Age on the future of the Australian Defence Force from Minister of Defence Marise Payne and opposition spokesman for Defence, Stephen Conroy.
  • Jeffrey Lewis in Foreign Policy on 'The Great Asian Missile Race'.
  • Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe has been spending some time in Central Asia attempting to build Japan's ties to the region, possibly as a counter to China.
  • While Pakistani and Indian generals alike believe they would be able to control the military escalation between their countries in the event of war, scenarios from the Cold War involving tactical nuclear weapons show this is highly unlikely.
  • John Garnaut on India and the 'containment' of China:

Contrary to some popular mythology, neither India, Japan nor Australia are being passively drafted into conflict with China by a hegemonic US. They are all protagonists in this story. Strikingly, the four established major democracies of the region are sharpening the divide with China by explicitly building their joint security arrangements upon a platform of common values.