Germany Gets On Board With The Indo-Pacific
Last week the German government adopted new policy guidelines on the Indo-Pacific, making Germany only the second European country after France to have a blueprint for engagement with the region. This marks a remarkable shift. Till about a year ago, there was considerable reluctance in German policy circles to even use the term, largely because of China’s misgivings. The first signs of change were visible at the end of last year when the German Defense Minister signalled a shift in security approach by highlighting concerns over Chinese claims to power in the region, and arguing that Germany should show solidarity with partners in the Indo-Pacific. Since then, the debate on the Indo-Pacific and how best to engage with the region has been gaining traction in several European countries as well as Brussels.
The German Leitlinien (policy guidelines) is a 40-pages long comprehensive document that explains how Germany views the region and delineates its priorities for engagement. The document is important for three reasons. First, it recognises the importance of the Indo-Pacific as a strategic region, which will be “key to shaping the international order in the 21st century”. It notes that while different countries use different geographical contours to define the region, Germany defines the Indo-Pacific as the entire area characterised by the interconnected Indian and Pacific Oceans. Second, it recognises that security dynamics in the region will have a direct impact on European security and prosperity, not least since Europe and the Indo-Pacific are “closely connected through global supply chains”.