The Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs is currently exploring research related to three overarching themes: emerging security challenges, regional responses to strategic competition, and the governance of the global commons.

Emerging Security Challenges

In addition to traditional security challenges, the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs examines how economics, technology, climate change, health, and other issues impact regional stability and prosperity.

Project: Undersea Cables, Geoeconomics, and Security in the Indo-Pacific: Risks and Resilience

Submerged deep beneath the ocean, networks of undersea cables form the critical infrastructure that enables the communication and connectivity upon which societies are built. Over 95 percent of global Internet traffic relies on roughly 450 undersea cables for high-volume, high-speed transmission of information, and they transmit approximately $10 trillion in financial transactions data throughout the global economy on a daily basis. The Indo-Pacific has been the most active site of undersea cable construction for over a decade, and these undersea cables have become intertwined in emerging regional strategic technology competition, sparking fears about how they might be threatened by sabotage, manipulation, economic coercion, natural disasters, or physical attacks. To better understand the political, economic, and security dynamics surrounding this critical infrastructure, the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs is conducting a two-year research project with experts from the US, the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East in partnership with Keio University, the Global Infrastructure Research Fund Foundation, and Khalifa University. This project was made possible by the support of the Japan Foundation.

Regional Responses to Strategic Competition

The Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs examines the complex dynamics of US-China competition on the Indo-Pacific and how regional actors are crafting their own policies in response.

Project: The Future of Security and Economic Competition in the Indo-Pacific

International security and political economy have become increasingly commingled—and in no region more than the Indo-Pacific. While the policy debate rages on concerning how coupled or decoupled Washington and Beijing are or should be, the security and economic context in the Indo-Pacific continues to shift, driven by government policy, military spending, and private sector investment. Engaging with this reality, the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs, the Berkeley APEC Study Center, and the Berkeley Risk and Security Lab are conducting research with experts across three continents designed to investigate the degree to which specific crises, alliance relationships, multi- and mini-lateral arrangements, and industrial policy are shaping the region.

Governance of the Global Commons

The Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs analyzes the evolving rules-based international order and how Indo-Pacific state and non-actors are shaping the governance of the maritime, outer space, and cyber domains.

Project: Exploiting the Tragedy of the Commons? Commerce, Crime, and Conflict in the South China Sea

The security implications of territorial disputes in the South China Sea have received a tremendous amount of attention over the past decade, but less attention has been given to the central role that fishing plays in the politics, economics, and security of the area. In this research project, Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs Director Kristi Govella examines the ways that political, economic, and security drivers have led to the fishing crisis in the South China Sea in the fashion of a classic “tragedy of the commons” and how states have responded to try to solve this problem, and, in some cases, to exploit it.

The Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs welcomes collaboration with colleagues at UH Mānoa and across the University of Hawai‘i system, as well as with external partners. If you are interested in collaborating with the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs on a research project, contact

In addition to research specifically being done through the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs, many experts across the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa are individually engaged in research relevant to the Indo-Pacific region, many of whom are affiliated with the UH Mānoa School of Pacific and Asian Studies.