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Tag Archives | ADIZ

The significance of Asia’s democratic security diamond

Asia’s security is best laid out in the hands of Democratic countries that follow rule-based order, have respect for the current international order and international law.

Just days after being selected as the new Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe in his first public address stated his future for Japan and the Indo-Pacific region in general. The title of the address “Asian Democratic Security Diamond” was quite apt considering the lingering tension in the region.

This piece focuses on strengthening Japan’s relation with democratic forces in Asia namely India, Australia, United States of America and Japan itself. The principle argument of this is that Asia’s security is best laid out in the hands of Democratic countries that follow rule-based order, have respect for the current international order and international law. After Japan’s recent skirmishes with China over a small set of islands in the East China Sea, Japan has become wary of China’s growing disrespect for international law and order and the current status quo. Japan wants the democratic countries to come together and counter China over such misappropriated claims.

In a carefully planned address Shinzo Abe stated “The ongoing disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea mean that Japan’s top foreign-policy priority must be to expand the country’s strategic horizons. Japan is a mature maritime democracy, and its choice of close partners should reflect that fact. I envisage a strategy whereby Australia, India, Japan, and the US state of Hawaii form a diamond to safeguard the maritime commons stretching from the Indian Ocean region to the western Pacific. I am prepared to invest, to the greatest possible extent, Japan’s capabilities in this security diamond.”

Japan’s struggle against a growing and increasingly assertive China will be at the forefront of a new rivalry between the West and China. Even though Chinese Leaders repeatedly convey that China’s rise will be peaceful and not cause harm to anyone, analysts believe that China is going the way of Germany before World War I and II. Japanese repeatedly point out that China is making the same mistake that Japan made during World War II. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe went as far as to compare the recent tension between the two countries to the one existing between Great Britain and Germany prior to World War I at the recently concluded Davos Summit in Switzerland.

Japan is positioning itself to defend its interests in Asia. Japan has been largely dormant since World War II, concentrating mainly on its economy and has been a model US ally in the region. Japan is becoming increasingly fearful that South China Sea is becoming “Lake Beijing” and it will surely harm its economy and its very existence in the future. If implemented, Abe’s policies will inject Japan into the heart of the intensifying Pacific struggle between Beijing and Washington for maritime regional maritime dominance and stir new concerns, especially in China, over a possible reemergence of Japan’s militaristic past.

Japan is increasingly courting countries such as India and Australia with huge interest in the Indo-Pacific region to ward off the China threat. Joint Maritime exercises with these Countries have become a calendar marker each year. The Malabar Exercise between India, United States, Japan, Australia and Singapore have seen strong diplomatic response from China which sees such exercise being directed against it.

Australia issued a strong response in support of Japan when China declared an expanded ADIZ covering the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Even Kevin Rudd, Former Australian Prime Minister and a sinologist suggested that rise of China as a singular naval power in the region will harm the interest of all the countries in the region and said that it will be the policy of successive Australian governments to see to it that Australia, along with The United States and Japan try to strive to prevent such a future.

India on the other hand is watching these developments very closely and approaching the situation very cautiously. Even though India did not issue a official statement condemning China’s ADIZ, many believe that Japan will have the support of India in any future conflict. India too is fearful that China is not expanding only into the Pacific but also its own backyard, the Indian Ocean. There have been cases of skirmishes and stand-offs between the Indian Navy and its Chinese Counterpart in the area. The inductance of INS Arihant and other ships such as Aircraft Carrier and Frigates are a step in the right direction to achieve its Blue Water Naval ambitions and to counter China’s formidable navy.

The United States with its 6 Carrier Groups in the Indo-Pacific region is keeping a check on China’s naval ambitions. Joint Naval exercises with Countries in the periphery of China and at times, at the receiving end of China’s gun-boat diplomacy are being assured of all financial help to perk up their own capabilities to counter China. US has time and again empathised on the role of regional organisations to sort out disputes between the concerned countries. The role of United States is critical and extremely crucial in maintaining order in the region. However many countries are concerned to what extent the United States will go to safeguard the territorial integrity of its allies in the region especially after last year’s Scarborough Shoal, where after US intervention, China backed off but within a month again occupied the islands and with very little response or retaliation by the United States.

Japan’s emphasis on “open and stable seas” and maritime security is the taking point in the policy circles and to what extent the Democratic Security Diamond initiative is able to ward off the China threat remains to be seen. One thing is guaranteed that Shinzo Abe will go down in history  as the one man who stood up against the China threat well before anyone else.

Piyush Singh is a law student with an interest in India-China relations and nuclear law and energy. He completed his internship at the Takshashila Institution.

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“Chinese dream”- return to the concept of Middle Kingdom?

By Piyush Singh

China wants to be the sole regional power in the Asian region and is clearly projecting the same, militarily and through its economic clout.

The recent declaration of Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) by China over Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands was a reminder by the Chinese government to the world of its growing role as a regional power and in future a ‘superpower’. Over the course of last year after President Xi Jinping took helm as the leader of the country, Chinese assertiveness has increased in the Asia-Pacific region. It has proactively started claiming the whole of South China Sea and Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. The Chinese government has already declared these zones as its “Core Interests”, putting it at the same stature as the issue of Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang. Its Boundary dispute with India is one of a more complex nature and in the past one year there have been more than 300 instances of incursions by the Chinese troops and occupying Indian Territory.

President Xi Jinping’s Speech about the great Chinese Dream was focused on “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and “combines the spirit of the nation with patriotism as its core”. Skeptics around the world have linked the nature of this so called “Chinese Dream” to a more military form of dream. China’s increasing assertiveness in South and East China Sea has created ripples in various countries. President Xi’s interpretation of the Chinese Dream as a strong nation for the Chinese people and a strong military dream for the military has further more alarmed the neighbouring countries, in particular Japan, India and Vietnam. This is a stark difference from President Hu Jinatao’s “Peaceful Rise” concept whereby he emphasised on the peaceful development of the “Chinese nation”. After assuming power President Xi has issued orders to focus on “real combat” and “fighting and winning wars”.  China’s official defence budget has increased 10.7 percent from 2012 to 117 Billion Dollars.Unofficial Spending is estimated to be much higher, around 150 Billion Dollars.

What Is the Dream About? However, the main concept behind President Xi’s Concept of “Chinese Dream” is to restore China to its former glory of more than 5000 years of proud civilisation which it had lost after more than 200 years of foreign rule and oppression starting in 1750’s through Opium Wars and ultimately Japanese Occupation culminating into World war II. His dream is directly related to the old Confucian concept of the “Middle Kingdom” whereby China was at the centre of the world affairs and different countries paid homage to it. China no longer needs to “bide its time and hide its capabilities” as propounded by the great reformer Deng Xiaoping. For President Xi, the time for the Chinese nation to reclaim its former glory has come. He has even outlined the year 2049 as the time when the Country would have truly arrived at the world stage, which is on the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China. Even though many argue that the so called “Chinese Dream“ is for the development of the Chinese people and to achieve economic growth, reduce poverty etc drawing parallels with “American Dream” of economic prosperity, liberty and basic human rights they clearly forget that China has always been a very opaque society in terms of its functioning and decision making. Who calls the shots in China has always been disputed. Many argue that the military has a firm control over the politburo and largely influences its decision making process.

Indian and Japanese Concerns-Time for Strategic Partnership? The other two aspiring regional powers in the Asian region, India and Japan have clearly taken the proactive Chinese military Posture with a pinch of salt. India in response to repeated Chinese incursions has raised a new mountain corps division of near about 85,000 soldiers and is simultaneously strengthening its fledging navy to maintain its dominance over the Indian Ocean region and also to secure its economic interests in the South China Sea. Japan has for the first time in ten years increased its defence budget and aims to spend around US$239 Billion over the course of next five years on buying up military hardware to counter China. Since assuming office, prime minister Shinzo Abe has vowed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Japan. The Japanese Self Defense Forces(SDF) have been rapidly undergoing modernisation drive and it is being widely assumed in policy circles that it will soon lose its “pacifist” tag forced upon it after the horrors of World War II.

Both India and Japan share common concerns regarding the rise of China and how it is going to impact the regional balance in Asia and its periphery. The recent visit of the Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko signify the importance the Japanese give to India-Japan Relations. Both India and Japan in recent years have increased defence cooperation and financial engagements. Abe’s government has also vowed to review Japan’s ban on weapons exports and is aggressively pursuing options of arming the militaries of India and Vietnam. Even the United States of America, the sole super-power after the end of Cold War has started prioritising itself in Asia-Pacific with its “Asia Pivot” program whereby it seeks to limit China’s growth as a super power and keep it mingled on the Chinese Mainland through repeated poking at its dismal Human Rights record, environment pollution and more rights for its citizens. Many analysts have linked this concept of “Chinese Dream” to the USA’s “Monroe Doctrine” which it adopted in the early 19th Century whereby it restricted the meddling of European powers in the Americas. China wants to be the sole regional power in the Asian region and is clearly projecting the same, militarily and through its economic clout.  The best way to contain China is to engage it more in international issue through the rule of law and not arbitrarily through its own set of rules.

Piyush Singh is a law student with an interest in India-China Relations, Nuclear Law and Energy. He is completing his internship with the Takshashila Institution. 

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