Great powers manoeuvre in Asia

Consider the territorial disputes roiling the Indian Ocean and other East Asian regions, sparked by China’s repeated _ and increasingly assertive _ efforts to claim sovereignty over vast maritime areas. As China’s incursions reignite long-smouldering disagreements and threaten to destabile [sic] the regional status quo, countries throughout Asia are reconsidering their strategic positions.

For example, the Philippines is revamping its security strategy by enhancing cooperation with the United States _ China’s counterweight in the region _ only two decades after it closed two major American military installations, the naval base at Subic Bay and Clark Air Base. Vietnam, too, has strengthened its ties with the US. And, after decades of absence, America has resumed training programmes for Indonesia’s military.

More significant, Japan’s leaders are now openly debating ways to transform the country’s post-World War II pacifism into a much more assertive nationalism. In fact, in August, the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force unveiled the helicopter destroyer Izumo, whose structure and capabilities resemble those of an aircraft carrier, with possible offensive applications. This emerging strategic shift will likely have far-reaching consequences, raising the stakes of Sino-Japanese sparring over islands in the East China Sea.

But, while Japan’s tense relationship with China dominates headlines worldwide, the strategic rivalry between China and India is more likely to shape Asian power dynamics in the coming decades. And recent events suggest that China knows it.

As it stands, India and China are openly competing for influence in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh. So far, they have largely relied on economic and commercial mechanisms _ especially rival port and pipeline projects _ to secure their [sic] hpositions.

China is not allowing its economic slowdown to derail its efforts to enlarge and modernise its navy and expand its commercial interests around Eurasia’s southern rim. It has been investing or demonstrating interest in deep-water port projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Bangladesh, and it has been directly involved in financing and constructing Indian Ocean ports in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Full article: Great powers manoeuvre in Asia (Bankok Post)

Comments are closed.