CONNECTIVITY CONVERSATIONS #1: Europe and digital connectivity in the Indo-Pacific

Webinar · 21.11.2022 15:00 - 16:00

The European Global Gateway, launched in December 2021, promises close to 300 billion euros in public and private funds to boost connectivity globally. The digital domain is the first-mentioned thematic priority in the Global Gateway initiative and hence a crucial test of its success. It is of particular relevance as technology and digitalisation are at the heart of the hardening Sino-American conflict. Geographically, the Indo-Pacific region is of vast importance: it is the world’s primary growth region and ‘ground zero’ of great power conflict. As the EU embarks on its own distinctive strategic outlook to the Indo-Pacific region, it aims to contribute to open, safe and inclusive digital connectivity and engage with the region’s thriving digital economies. One year since the launch of the Indo-Pacific strategy and Global Gateway, this webinar will look at what the EU and EU member states have done so far to promote digital connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region. What steps are needed to help promote an open, transparent and inclusive digital domain, and vibrant and resilient digital economies that benefit people?

This webinar is the first in a series of Connectivity Conversations, which is part of the FIIA-led research project analysing the role of connectivity in Asia, broadly in the Indo-Pacific region, and its linkages with security, economy and sustainable development.


Maaike Okano-Heijmans, Senior Research Fellow, Clingendael Institute

Christian Fjäder, CEO, Geostrategic Intelligence Group

Bart Gaens, Leading Researcher, FIIA



Maaike Okano-Heijmans

Senior Research Fellow, Clingendael Institute

Maaike Okano-Heijmans is a senior research fellow at the Clingendael Institute. She is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Leiden, where she has been teaching on ‘Non-Western Diplomacy’ in the MSc in International Relations and Diplomacy (MIRD) since 2012.

Her main research interests are in connectivity and the geopolitics of technology and digitalisation in EU-Asia relations, with a special focus on China, Japan and the Indo-Pacific. A key question underlying much of her work is how the fourth industrial revolution reshapes international relations, and what this means for the European Union and its member states – in particular The Netherlands. Recent projects focus on digital connectivity, digital for development, China’s Digital Silk Road and Europe’s Digital Decade. In addition, since joining Clingendael in 2006, Maaike has worked on issues related to consular affairs and diplomacy – also known as 'citizen security' or 'duty of care'.

Maaike has more than 15 years of experience in (policy-oriented) research and advice for Dutch, EU/European and Asian governments and institutions. Maaike leads Clingendael’s new work programme on Geopolitics of technology and digitalisation as well as projects on Geopolitics, great powers and global governance for the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense, under the multi-annual PROGRESS framework.


Christian Fjäder

CEO, Geostrategic Intelligence Group

Christian Fjäder is CEO at Geostrategic Intelligence Group. Previously, he was Director of Policy Planning and Analysis at the National Emergency Supply Agency of Finland. He has been a Visiting Research Fellow at FIIA and worked for Nokia and Nokia Siemens Networks in the fields of corporate safety, risk management and business continuity management, being responsible for area (Asia Pacific) and global activities. He holds a PhD in International Relations from University of Sydney and is a Steering Group Member of the OECD High Level Risk Forum.


Bart Gaens

Leading Researcher, FIIA

Dr. Bart Gaens is Leading Researcher at FIIA’s Global Security Research Programme. From May 2021 until April 2023, he is in charge of a project on connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region. He also holds the title of Docent at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki. In the past he has worked as Project Director for the Center on US Politics and Power (CUSPP), as Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Helsinki, and as Specially Appointed Associate Professor at Osaka University, Japan.

He has published widely on Europe-Asia interregionalism and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process, Japan’s foreign policy and regional role, India’s foreign policy and relations with the EU, domestic politics in Myanmar, and security-related issues in the Indo-Pacific region. He has also (co)edited volumes and reports on connectivity, EU-Asia relations, the US-China rivalry, transatlantic relations, and Japan’s search for strategic partnerships.