In an Indo-Pacific region where developing countries vastly outnumber the fully industrialised, the only nations to have broken free from the middle-income trap are democracies with liberal institutions.

Now that should fill democrats with confidence. Only it doesn’t. Many in the foreign policy community are afraid that raising political reform will be greeted with indifference or, worse, will annoy or ­offend others. The problem is that autocracies are not just resilient, but the promotion of autocracies is on the rise.

Democracy promotion: ANZUS and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy