Book review: The Indo-Pacific contest by Rory Medcalf

Book review: The Indo-Pacific contest by Rory Medcalf

John West | The Interpreter

"A meditation on the region – the arena of Australia’s greatest strategic focus – puts China’s rise in historic context.

Napoleon was prescient in that he said when China “wakes she will shake the world”. In the space of four decades, China has built up the world’s largest economy in purchasing power parity terms. It is the largest trading partner of virtually all of its neighbours. It has become a revisionist power that wants to change the international order to fit its interests. And somewhat ironically, China’s position as a global power may even be strengthened by the fallout of the Covid-19, even though it was where the virus first emerged.

The region of the world most shaken by China’s awakening is the “Indo-Pacific” according to Rory Medcalf in his new book, Contest for the Indo-Pacific: Why China won’t map the future. This region, spanning both the Indian and Pacific Oceans, was propelled to centre stage by economics, especially energy trade, by China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, India, and the nations of Southeast Asia. Indeed, it was in 1993 that China became a net importer of oil, and it was then only a matter of time before it returned its navy to the Indian Ocean for the first time in 600 years."

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John West, The Interpreter, 2020