Thursday, August 1, 2019

Security Issues in Asia-Pacific Region

Sadia Rahman
PhD Student National Chung Hsing University

    Asia-Pacific region has become a centrifugal point of competition between the United States and China; it is the world’s economic and geopolitical center of gravity. This region is prone to nuclear and conventional threats posed by North Korea, which makes it vulnerable and on the other hand, other states in the region from Japan to India are active in pursuing their interests. It is argued by many scholars that America’s status can be defined if it gets its position right in the Asia-pacific region. Great Attention has been given in building the Asia-Pacific security mechanism after the end of Cold War; the new century has brought security challenges. Buzan,, Waever, and Wilde mentions in their book Security: A New Framework for Analysis that security is not only confined to the traditional concept of military-political terms but also security has a distinctive character and
it’s multisectoral i.e. security issues are found in economic, societal, environmental as well. In the Asia-pacific region, we have witnessed confrontation between different geographies for instance disputes between North Korea and South Korea, the protracted Cross-Strait tensions, territorial disputes over the islands in the South China Sea, disputes over the northern island between Japan and Russia. Different states involved in flaunting their military strength including involvement of the
US, this has made Asia-Pacific region vulnerable and the peace of the region is put at stake and endangered and if states dispute keeps rising and it will make the situation more worse. For instance, US and Japan support to Taiwan issue and conflicting tension crops us this affects the relations of the US, China, and Japan as well as the stability of the region.

    The changing security dynamics in the South-China sea is a matter of concern for many countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, China being the rising power in the Asian continent is rapidly increasing its military strength and is quite assertive in its approach; whereas we see India as well who is well aware of China’s rise. To its only competitor China India is also keenly displaying its interest in East Asian politics with Modi’s Act East foreign policy proclamations. The US proclamation of ‘Pivot to East Asia’ in 2011 was attempting to reengage with the region but is very firm and assertive in dealing with the South China Sea, 2009 submission to the UN claiming the validity of a map of the territory it was first published in 1947. In 2014, China started drilling near the contested Paracel Islands and island construction on submerged reefs in Spratly island which was
vehemently opposed by the Philippines and Vietnam. In 2016 China overruled International tribunals decision and many scholars including Matt McDonald observe China and argued from an offensive realist perspective that China will become revisionist than status-quo oriented as its material power capacity relative to the US grows. Other instance related to regional security came to highlight that
can destabilize the peace and security of the Asia-Pacific region was the issue of North-Korea’s nuclear program, long-range missile tests in 2017 done by North Korea raised international concern and triggered an international response. When provocatively missiles were flown over Japan we the USA President Donald Trump made a remark that North Korea would be erased from the map is such activities continued further and North Korea was also considering to detonate a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific. The year 2017 witnesses security crisis in the Korean peninsula, the traditional security agenda and inter-state rivalry is encircling the Asia-Pacific region with security threats.

    I will not mention ASEAN and its role, as I perceive ASEAN as an organization having deep political integration. Other state actors in the region have changed their outlook; Indonesia is displaying its ambitious foreign policy and security policy approach. The process of security is normalized in Japan, which is considered a significant approach in the region, and it has increased its security budget, created a national security council and ended a ban on weapons exports. Another state actor India is also playing a key role, India the rising state in their region and considered
a competitor for China is displaying an assertive foreign policy as India was giving a push to be a member of APEC. China’s growing engagement in the Indian Ocean was not overlooked and India showed its strength and increase its material capacity (military). One cannot study the security dynamic of the Asia-Pacific region without considering India, India asserts itself robustly to be a part of the security cooperation mechanism and India along with the US, Japan and Australia i.e. the
quad is a viable option to contain and encircle China.

    In the Asia-Pacific region, multilateralism or institutional building to combat security issues is still at an embryonic stage, major powers found no common ground for real and effective cooperation and mutual suspicion have characterized the relations. In the Asia-Pacific region, states do not interfere in the domestic affairs of nations and because of that, it leads to delay decision-making process
frustrating other states. English Poet John Donne wrote that in Asia ‘every man is an island, entire of itself.’ Regional cooperation is also vital for the durable security structure, many scholars share this opinion that the Asia-Pacific region does not need a new regional security architecture rather it needs a new security concept. The multi-layered structure and regional dialogue facilitate confidence building but it does not provide security.

    Three patterns of security building are required in the Asia-Pacific to deal with security issues- first, bilateral military alliance-such kind of security arrangements stress security building by military means to deal with their potential enemies. Post-Cold war era the US have taken efforts and maintained their security cooperation with its allies (South Korea, the Philippines, Japan) this enables to keep intact America’s security role. Second, cooperation based on mutual trust and confidence-
China, Russia and Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) took steps to improve their relations and in 2001 SCO was set up a regional body to promote peace, stability, and economic ties. Third, regional security dialogues, ASEAN has expanded its role as ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) this forum has played an important role in promoting security dialogue between nations in the
Asia-Pacific region. Such steps and dialogues enhance regionals security.

    Mutual trust is a pre-requisite for nations to combat security risks and issues, and new concepts of security like common security, comprehensive security, and multilateral security to stabilize the region. In common security, country should meet the needs of common interests and no country should maintain its own security risking other nations security and security cooperation should be developed to deal common issues such as drug trafficking, environmental protection, the proliferation of WMDs. A comprehensive security mechanism should take consideration of the overall balance of politics, economy, society, culture and the military in dealing with security problems. To establish strong security cooperation there should be no exclusiveness and aim should be to keep stability and peace in the region, and norms of security relation should be of mutual benefit.

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