Indo-Pacific Outlook

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Indo-Pacific Outlook is a policy brief series published by the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs or any organization with which the author is affiliated.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
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    Entangled: Southeast Asia and the Geopolitics of Undersea Cables
    ( 2024-02-07) Noor, Elina
    This article demonstrates that Southeast Asia has been involved in undersea cable networks since the 19th century and that these cables are increasingly valuable to regional countries—but also increasingly vulnerable. It argues that US-China competition is resulting in a fragmentation of cable networks, and consequently, Southeast Asian countries are increasingly being forced to choose between infrastructure provided by China and infrastructure provided by the US and its partners. This article also argues that the region has been remiss in not taking a more comprehensive approach to the construction, routing, and protection of undersea cables. It concludes with recommendations for the creation of a new multi-stakeholder council of interagency officials, industry captains, and foreign policy and security practitioners to discuss cross-cutting technological issues, including undersea cables.
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    Improving Indo-Pacific Cable Security and Resilience: Investment, Licensing, and Repair
    ( 2024-01-31) Sherman, Justin
    The Indo-Pacific region is an important zone for undersea cables across investments, development, maintenance, and technological innovation. Through case studies of Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, and India, this article examines the actors who are investing in regional cable infrastructure, how Indo-Pacific countries are approaching security issues in cable licensing, and whether actors are investing resources or developing specific policies around cable repairs. It finds that, across these four countries, many types of actors are involved in cable investment, including telecommunications firms, investment banks, and internet companies. However, there is considerable variation in how these countries are addressing security and repair issues. The article concludes by recommending that Indo-Pacific countries remember to balance investment screening and security issues with international collaboration on cables, improve cable outage and repair tracking, consider government-led or government-subsidized cable repair ship programs, and integrate security and resilience assessments into licensing processes.
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    Maritime Security and Underwater Surveillance Technology: Lessons from the Cold War
    ( 2024-01-24) Kajiwara, Mizuho
    The global underwater acoustic surveillance network known as the Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) allowed the US to identify Soviet submarines during the Cold War, and its history holds important lessons for the present. Submarines conducting military operations in the world's oceans are now the most active since the end of the Cold War. As undersea competition intensifies in the Indo-Pacific among the US, China, and Russia, acoustic surveillance systems are again gaining relevance. In addition, technological developments such as Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) have the potential to change military strategies dramatically. This article describes the ways that countries are responding to new challenges in the maritime domain. It argues that the experience of the Cold War shows that collaboration across industry, academia, and government, as well as cooperation among the US and its allies and partners, will be essential to tackling today’s rapidly changing strategic undersea environment.
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    Improving Public-Private Partnerships on Undersea Cables: Lessons from Australia and Its Partners in the Indo-Pacific
    ( 2024-01-17) Channer, Hayley
    This article examines the recent increase in government efforts to supply Pacific Island nations with undersea cables, focusing on Australia, the US, and Japan. Drawing from conversations with industry representatives from hyperscalers, national telecommunications companies, and Pacific region operators, it outlines private sector views on how to improve public-private partnerships (PPPs) and identifies three areas for improvement. First, government and industry views regarding the development of global cable architecture, security, and supply should be aligned. Second, government consortia and regulatory regimes should be better coordinated to make it easier for businesses to operate. Third, government policy over the lifespan of the cable should be stabilized to help ensure industry efforts will not be undermined by changes in government. These findings have implications not only for Australia, Japan, and the US but also for other countries looking to forge smoother collaborations with the private sector on undersea cables in the future.
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    Accelerating Asia-Pacific Space Economies Through Regional Partnerships
    ( 2024-01-11) Mabuni, Brandt ; Manantan, Mark Bryan
    Many Asia-Pacific countries have grown their outer space industries in recent years, resulting in a spectrum of space economies at differing levels of maturity across the region with potential complementarities that could catalyze further development of this crucial sector. This article highlights several key takeaways from a recent virtual event on "Accelerating Asia-Pacific Space Economies Through Regional Partnerships: Challenges, Opportunities, and Best Practices.” First, as commercial interests are increasingly driving space development, states are articulating distinct space strategies to try to facilitate innovation by the private sector while also protecting their own national security interests. Second, while there are promising opportunities for cooperation among states and between the public and private sectors, there is still much work to be done in establishing shared rules, norms, and standards of behavior. Third, dynamics in the outer space domain are strongly shaped by the broader context of geopolitical competition among states, which presents challenges to some kinds of collaboration and highlights the need to build trust among multiple stakeholders.
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