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Global Geopolitical Conflicts News Analysis

How far will US and US-Allies containment actions against China go in the Indo-Pacific?

How far will US and US-Allies containment actions against China go in the Indo-Pacific?

September news analyzed by GGN revealed that actions by the United States and its closest Asian allies to contain China’s expansionism in the Indo-Pacific region continue.

In September:

1) India and Japan concluded their Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), agreement that shows strategic convergence between two major swing powers in the Indo Pacific region, with growing concerns about China.

2) India announced that project to support infrastructures plans in Maldives to compete with the China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

3) India and Vietnam signed an agreement to strengthen their strategic partnership. 

4) Japan announced that plan to shore up relations with Vietnam and Indonesia, two key Southeast Asian partners with important positions in ASEAN.

5) Five Eyes alliance -US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand- make public their plan to include Japan as a member.

6) United States and Europe made known their plan to create an ‘Asian NATO’ of regional powers.

7) It was disclosed a plan to install a military base of United States in the Pacific nation of Palau.

8) United States signed a defense agreement (in consultation with India) with the Indian Ocean islands of the Maldives.

9) United States attempted to rally support from Washington’s closest allies in Asia -Japan, India and Australia– to strength their infrastructural initiatives as a countervailing measure against China’s Belt and Road Initiative influence.

10) There were attempts by United States to make top diplomats from Southeast Asia to cut ties with Chinese companies helping build islands in the South China Sea.

Perspectives:

The results of United States and its closest allies in Asia efforts to contain China in the Indo Pacific region showed by September news are yet to be known.

The concrete thing is that the Indo-Pacific has become a new focal point of the US-China rivalry that will re-shape the strategic dynamics in the region.

Unlike United States, their closest allies does not view relations with China as a zero-sum game and, while allied with USA in countering China in security, would try to find ways to coexist with China in the economic sphere, even participating in the Belt and Road Initiative. China is the main economic partner for almost all Asian American allies, so is unlikely that they would break economic ties with it.

On the other hand, it is not clear how far the United States is ready to offer to its closest allies in Asia real alternatives that could compete with what China offers, especially with the BRI.

Appendix:

What is the strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific?

Indo-Pacific is at the centre of gravity of economic growth in the world. The three largest economies, the United States, China, and Japan are all located in the Indo-Pacific.

The Indo-Pacific has emerged as the hub of global trade and energy supply.

The two-third container trade of the world passes through this region. Around one third of global shipping passes through the South China Sea alone.

 The two rising economies- India and China and Japan are dependent on Indo-Pacific sea routes for their trade and energy supply.

Two important maritime choke points- Bal al Mandeb and the Malacca Strait are located on the either side of the Indo-Pacific.

The region is also the home of more than 50 percent of the global population and rich in mineral and marine resources.

The Indo-Pacific includes the world’s most populous state (China), the most populous democracy (India) and the most populous Muslim-majority state (Indonesia).

Militarily, the Indo-Pacific is full of flashpoints that serve as potential sources of armed conflict: North Korea of Kim Jong; Taiwan’s pro-independent intentions; territorial and maritime disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

Seven of the ten largest standing armies in the world can be found in the Indo-Pacific.

Editor

 

By Bernardo Simón Foster

International Relations Analyst/

Master in International Relations

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Global Geopolitical Conflicts News Analysis

Global Geopolitical Conflicts News Analysis

Global Geopolitical Conflicts News Analysis:

PERSPECTIVES AND TRENDS:

AUGUST 2020:

The August news on geopolitics analyzed by GGN revealed three main trends:

  • Actions to contain China’s expansion in strategic geopolitical areas of Asia Pacific and South Asia were increased.
  • Tension grew between the countries that have geopolitical interests in the Mediterranean.
  • More tension in the Middle East, after Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement that could modify the balance of power of the region.

Regarding the actions taken during August to contain China’s expansion in Asia Pacific and South Asia, are mentioned:  1) The Five Eyes alliance –US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand– plan to include Japan as a member. 2) India and Japan plan to sign an important military logistics agreement. 3) India and Vietnam agreement to strengthen their strategic partnership. 4) India´s project to support infrastructures plans in Maldives (Maldives has become a focal point for India and China, particularly in the wake of China’s Belt and Road Initiative). 5) Moreover, US sent in August a high level official mission to Taiwan to show them it´s effectively recognition as a sovereign nation.

The results of these countries efforts to contain China are yet to be known.

As for the Mediterranean region, tension grows after various maneuvers carried out by Turkey with the intention of exploiting natural gas in the region. Turkey conducted in August exercises with a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Eastern Mediterranean. In response, Greece launched military exercises jointly with France, Italy and Cyprus in the same zone.

Turkey is planning to create a three-seas link (the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the Caspian Sea, named Turkish Silk Road), that could be supported by India, the European Union, and the United States, with anti-Chinese connotations, adding more tension in the region.

Regarding the Middle East, the new deal may radicalize the opposition between the Gulf-Egypt-Israel axis and Iran, as well as between the same axis and Turkey and Qatar. Iran, Qatar, Turkey, and all Palestinian factions already denounced the agreement, declaring that represents a victory for Israel and its ally United States.

The situation in Middle East could get more complicated if Israel and the United States achieve more Arab countries to follow the UAE’s path, as they are already trying to do.

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Global Geopolitical Conflicts News Analysis

Global Geopolitical Conflicts News Analysis

Global Geopolitical Conflicts News Analysis:

 

PERSPECTIVES AND TRENDS:        

JULY 2020 

During July, several strategic geopolitical centers were the scene of different military maneuvers of different kinds, with varying degrees of intensity and eventual danger of escalation.

In the Pacific and Indian Oceans, US conducted simultaneous naval drills with partners Australia, Japan and India, following the on-off “Quadrilateral” defense arrangement, a concept that envisions establishing an Asian Arc around China.

In the Indian Ocean, India has deployed almost its entire fleet of ships and submarines, likely a clear signal to China. Furthermore, suggests that India is tightening its grip on the crucial Malacca Strait, a development that will surely set off alarm bells in Beijing.

In the disputed South China Sea, the United States and China have simultaneously conducted military exercises, dueling big boat deployments that threaten to tilt the volatile maritime region ever closer to a superpower conflict.

Also in July, Chinese warplanes have violated Taiwan’s airspace on an almost daily basis (in response Taiwan’s defense forces carried out major live-fire drills on the country’s west coast). 

With the eastern Mediterranean in mind, the United States is planning to conduct military training with Cyprus related to tensions flared over Turkey’s drilling for gas reserves near Greek islands.

Finally, in the South Caucasus Azerbaijan and Armenia have clashed -also during July- on their border in a new escalation of their long territorial conflict.

 

What is in dispute?

Indian Ocean: Some 80% of the world’s maritime oil trade flows through three narrow passages of water, known as choke points, in the Indian Ocean. This includes the Strait of Hormuz which provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean. Actually, the Indian Ocean is becoming a pivotal zone of strategic competition, with China investing hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects across the region as part of its One Belt One Road initiative. Also important is the increasing role of Russia and Saudi Arabia in the Western Indian Ocean, fact that has gone fairly unnoticed.

South China Sea: bordered by Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, the South China Sea is a critical commercial gateway for a significant portion of the world’s merchant shipping, and contains significant reserves of undiscovered oil and gas. Some countries (like Japan and South Korea) rely heavily on the South China Sea for their supply of fuels and raw materials and as an export route. U.S. also have interests in the South China Sea, tied to economic sea-lanes; defense ties with allies and other security partners; and implications for the global balance of power and influence.

Eastern Mediterranean: linked to vital waterways such as the Suez Canal, the Strait of Gibraltar and the Bosporus, the Eastern Mediterranean is crucial for Middle East, North Africa, West Asia and Southern Europe. Furthermore, is reemerging as a crucial crossroads and becoming a massive hydrocarbon subsea riches, that could turn the region into one of the world’s most important sources of natural gas over the next half-century. Fully exploited, could transform the international energy market, reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. The Eastern Mediterranean is home to the largest offshore natural gas discoveries of this millennium, with prospects for significant additional findings.

South Caucasus: the South Caucasus played an important role in regional geopolitics, because of its special geographical position at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and the Middle East, acquiring also special significance in the post-Soviet period, when significant oil and gas fields were discovered in Azerbaijan and Central Asian countries. Great prospects are opening up in the construction of new gas and oil pipelines from Central Asia and Iran along the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan and further to the EU countries.