APC 2020 - History of Great Power Competition in the Indo-Pacific - Part 1
Part 1 of 2: David Hunt presents on early examples of territorial competition - from 1600 to 1900's, subsequent colonisation, and proxies used to fight wars in SE Asia and SW Pacific. He emphasises the importance of the Malacca Strait, separating the Malayan Peninsula from Indonesia’s Sumatra, as the gateway between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Citing recent speeches, Hunt describes how China's leaders are "weaponising history", both domestically and internationally, to sell its Belt and Road Initiative and its rise as peaceful. Such historical accounts - albeit inaccurate, says Hunt - are of a China conducting naval expeditions in and around the Pacific region for trade, cultural exchange and social harmony. The intended inference being to legitimise a perception of their long-standing presence in the region. Hunt describes a different interpretation of regional history featuring: Chinese gunboat diplomacy; regional assaults and hostage taking to enforce China's tribute system; and centuries of European and American colonialism in the region.