European Union forum on Indo-Pacific will lack US and China, which were not invited
The European Union will host its third Indo-Pacific forum in Brussels this week, but the world’s top superpowers are not invited.
Neither China nor the United States have been asked to a gathering of what is expected to be more than 70 foreign ministers on Friday, despite their outsize role in the region’s economic and security landscape, according to several sources familiar with the event.
Beijing’s absence is no surprise, but the omission of the US has raised some eyebrows.
Although it was not represented at the inaugural summit in Paris in 2022, Washington sent a high-level delegation to the second edition of the forum in Stockholm last year, led by Derek Chollet, counsellor of the US Department of State.
The EU did not immediately respond to a request seeking an explanation for the snub.
Britain has also been left off the invitation list. Last year, the former EU member sent a junior minister of state to Stockholm, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon.
Brussels is keeping the guest list under tight wraps for now. A senior EU official said it would only release a record of attendees, rather than invitees.
One European diplomat suggested the bloc did not want to appear “anti-China” as it looked to build bridges with nations spanning the Pacific Islands, East Africa and Asia.
However the EU official confirmed that China had not been invited for the third straight year, saying that Beijing “has not pursued engagement with partners in line with our concept of the Indo-Pacific”.
“You haven’t heard China talk about the Indo-Pacific as a concept they would like to engage with,” the official said. “There are lots of formats in which we engage with China fully and completely.”
The forum faces stiff competition for the limelight in the Belgian