Sixty ministers from around the Indo-Pacific and Europe will descend on Stockholm this Saturday to debate issues ranging from the South China Sea to security and Taiwan.

But two of the biggest actors in this particular theatre – mainland China and Taiwan – will not be present.

“China has never engaged with any partners in the framework of Indo-Pacific concepts, which it explicitly criticises,” said a senior European Union official when asked why China was not invited, even though it looms large over the discussions.