Far from being an obscure account of words and maps, the narrative of the Indo-Pacific helps nations face one of the great international dilemmas of the 21st century: how can other countries respond to a strong and often coercive China without resorting to capitulation or conflict? Some voices warn that the Indo-Pacific is actually code for geopolitical agendas. For many years, people and governments have readily recognised terms like Asia or Asia-Pacific, so why add a new geographical descriptor? And what difference to people’s lives – to their peace, autonomy, dignity and material wellbeing – does a new name for their part of the world make anyway?