The geopolitical landscape of Asia Pacific is changing dramatically


Two important events are having a meaning influence on existing security arrangements in Asia Pacific.

The result of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), led by President Xi Jinping, and US President Trump’s abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), pushed Asian states to re-orientate their long-held policy towards the two giants. Unclear commitments by the US towards Asian allies, coupled with offers of billions of dollars in infrastructural investments by China, have the potential to break orders in Asia.

Chinese support

China has donated $ 7.35 million to transport more than 3,000 weapons to Mindanao, Philippines, which is likely to be used in the fight against radical militants.

While the United States does not seem to be in agreement with the Philippines, China is approaching the Philippines, which used to have territorial disputes. Thailand and Malaysia are also approaching the path of Chinese influence.​Meanwhile, China and Thailand are pursuing a $ 5.15 billion high-speed rail project.

If the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia get closer to China, then everything has the potential to capture the foundations of the ASEAN geopolitical orientation.

ASEAN driving forces

There are two reasons for the establishment of ASEAN more than 50 years ago. The first is to achieve economic growth through better trade among member states, and the second is to form an alliance against the spread of communism in the region.

As the relationship between ASEAN and China grows and declines and the US is uncertain, ASEAN must establish its own defense pact to avoid involvement in the regional power play between China and the United States and to maintain peace and stability.

Contention in the South China Sea has exposed potential rifts, with countries like Cambodia reluctant to upset China, while others express support for the ruling of the International Arbitration Court in The Hague.

Despite skepticism about US continued involvement in the destroyer area near the South China Sea, the United States is proposing to increase its naval presence from 272 to 350. As it celebrates its 50th anniversary, ASEAN leaders cannot deny the inevitable geopolitical realities and implications for their ability to maintain unity and security over the next 50 years, which are rapidly changing.

 An end to patience

North Korean raids make Japan and South Korea uncomfortable The Trump administration has ended the “era of strategic tolerance” and declared that “all options are on the table.” China’s concerns over the deployment of high-altitude US military defenses across the Korean border, along with US tensions and China’s inability to restrain the North Korean leader – all these factors have led to many events occur.

An increasingly powerful China is showing signs of assertiveness in the neighborhood, including the South China Sea. While joining celebrations on the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China, President Xi Jinping had strong words of caution: “The central government will unswervingly implement the policy of “one country, two systems and make sure that it is fully applied in Hong Kong without being bent or distorted”.

The general mood of resignation is echoed in the words of Carrie Lam, the newly appointed Chief Executive of Hong Kong, who told the BBC that she cannot guarantee that freedom of speech will protect those who call for independence. These developments will certainly not offer any reassurance to Taiwan, considered by China as a “breakaway province” to be united with the mainland in the future.

Old rivalries persist

In South Asia, there is little hope for friendship between India and Pakistan, despite the settlement of Kashmir and border disputes. In fact, the situation has worsened after an attack on Indian border guards in Pathankot last year accused of being Pakistani militants.

The rivalry between the two largest countries in South Asia has undermined regional trade cooperation and has the least integration in the world. With a population of about 1.7 billion, South Asia has nuclear-armed and hostile neighbors.

While the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is virtually a dysfunctional body – particularly when compared to ASEAN – the Indo-Pak rivalry is also impeding other regional and sub-regional initiatives, like the BRI and The Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM). The China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor runs through the contentious Kashmir region, making India a non-participant in the BRI and skeptical of BCIM.

India’s chicken’s neck

The confrontation between China, India and Bhutan began when China entered the Doklam Corridor (not Indian territory) in northeastern India, which Bhutan claimed was driven by New Delhi due to the importance of the corridor. India.

Modi is getting closer to the United States and Japan as the US-India-Japan-Vietnam regional alliance is reaching a stage. This is the first time Indian Prime Minister Modi has visited Israel – and the signing of a multibillion-dollar defense agreement between the two countries.

Joint military exercises between Russia and Pakistan and Russia’s engagement with the Taliban are shifting the potential for regional power play as insurgents in Afghanistan launch more attacks (ISIS).

 Pakistan’s uncertainty over the elimination of the Taliban and Russia’s involvement has not been good for the region following the withdrawal of US troops. Even Australia is in talks with the United States after a phone call between Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over asylum.

 Turnbull has publicly welcomed China, which has replaced the United States in taking the lead in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations after Trump’s withdrawal. Today, China is Australia’s largest market for exports, and Turnbull is in talks with other countries to move toward the TPP and is in talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

New ways

As traditional US allies find ways to come together without the US,​​ and the geopolitics of Asia Pacific are going through realignments and changes not seen since the end of the World War II after China’s driving with trade regimes, like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as well as mega infrastructure projects like BRI.

Politics, economics and the military alliance may no longer follow suit. The region will face challenges and uncertainties that require a clearer understanding of both strategy and economic interests, as well as unifying forces.​ Complex issues need to be understood while Asians are waiting and watching events, things do not say the same.

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