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Asian military and diplomatic 'pivot' From U.S. to China

2017年05月13日 22時49分48秒 | Weblog




Ever since the United States announced its “pivot to Asia,” many have characterized the region as the scene of another Cold War rivalry, with China replacing the Soviet Union as the main contender for the United States. Even though the past five years came close to this description, recent developments show the opposite: regional countries and the United States have all softened their approach to China, bringing the region closer to a unipolar moment for China rather than a bipolar rivalry between China and the United States.

Take the South China Sea dispute, for example. Among the Southeast Asian claimant states, Vietnam and the Philippines have been the most outspoken countries against China in the dispute. The Philippines even took the bold step of challenging China by raising the issue to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which is against China’s preferred bilateral approach. However, under the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines is separating itself from the PCA rulings of last summer. Instead, Manila has declared its interest in more direct talks with China, in whom Duterte found a potential partner for his economic and security policies.

Vietnam follows a similar path. After the prime ministers of Vietnam and China met in October last year, the communist leaders from both countries met early this year to strengthen their bilateral ties, including by working to settle their maritime dispute peacefully.

The policies of other claimant states are more amenable to China. Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam have consistently pursued a peaceful approach toward China. Even though Malaysia stepped up its defense in 2013 after China for the first time sailed as close as 100 km away from Malaysia, their attitude afterward demonstrated a return to their initial policy of keeping a low profile in the disputes. In November last year, Malaysia’s prime minister visited Beijing within two weeks after Duterte’s trip, to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation including in the South China Sea.

Given the shifting attitudes of the claimant states, it is then no surprise if non-claimant states in ASEAN have showed a similarly soft, if not even milder, approach toward China. Cambodia and Laos in particular have been widely perceived as China’s supporters within ASEAN as both countries were reluctant to mention in detail the South China Sea disputes in the joint communiques of ASEAN meetings during their respective presidencies.

The recent government rejection of Freedom of Navigation Operations in the disputed area was seen as appeasement in exchange for China’s cooperation in handling the nuclear crisis in the North Korea.





In other parts of Asia, including the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, Mr. Trump’s willingness to bend to China is fueling worries that the United States will stop trying to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

Washington has been the main critic of China’s efforts to build fortresses atop reefs, rocks and islands in the South China Sea. But the Trump administration, apparently wary of angering Beijing, recently decided to suspend patrols of islands and reefs claimed by China. “The South China Sea is now China’s lake,” said Carlyle A. Thayer, an emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Mr. Trump’s credibility among Asian allies is now at stake, diplomats and analysts say. He may jeopardize longtime economic and security alliances if he does not show a willingness to look beyond North Korea, they say.

The president also risks pushing countries in the region closer to Beijing if he does not demonstrate that the United States intends to vigorously challenge China’s territorial claims in the sea.


Antonio T. Carpio, a Supreme Court justice in the Philippines and a critic of China, said he understood Mr. Trump’s focus on North Korea. But he said he worried about the “permanent concessions China may extract from the U.S.”

“Trump’s emerging transactional foreign policy is not reassuring,” he wrote in an email.



アジアの勢力図はアメリカ支配から中国支配へと大きく変わりつつあるのかもしれませんね。

日本も、とにかく、アメリカにへばりついていればいい、というような、思考停止の戦略からははやく卒業したいところですね。
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