On May 29 and 30, the first EU in the Volatile Indo-Pacific workshop was held at the Main Building of the University of Helsinki located on beautiful Senate Square. This EU Horizon-funded project was organized and led by Professor Julie Yu-Wen Chen of the Department of Cultures, and included participants from the project’s consortium including Palacky University’s Dr Alfred Gerstl, who heads the consortium, along with presenters from the University of Copenhagen and the Catholic University of Louvain, both of which are consortium partners. An overview of the speakers can be found here.
Reflecting the great range of scholarly expertise present, the first day saw presentations entailing the different notions and perceptions of European engagement with the Indo-Pacific region, and the contestation of the institutionalization of the term itself (replacing ‘Asia-Pacific’).
Beyond the maritime realm, attention was given to the various connectivity initiatives in the region, and where European and Asian countries could best find cooperation. Another aspect concerned the role domestic politics play in foreign policy continuity. In South Korea, a successor to President Yoon may reprioritize domestic interests.
On the second day, once again, the freedom of navigation featured prominently. Dedicated to the South China Sea disputes and international legal norms, the discussion centered on how to buttress the rules-based international order, and what politico-security role the EU can play within the Indo-Pacific region, in relation to both traditional and non-traditional security challenges.
Ample attention was also dedicated to the ‘Indo’ in ‘Indo-Pacific’: India. With promising economic and demographic growth projections and an institutional alignment with the West, concrete avenues for deeper Europe-India integration were discussed.
Hosted by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA), and moderated by Dr Bart Gaens, the last panel zoomed in on China-US rivalry with particular attention to technological competition. This race to achieve tech supremacy also underpins the AUKUS trilateral security pact, a new minilateral that has emerged within the Indo-Pacific security order.
Acknowledgement: This event has been locally supported by these entities
- Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki
- Finnish China Law Center, University of Helsinki
- Finnish Institute of International Affairs
- Taipei Representative Office in Finland