The geo-political, geo-strategic and the economic, significance of the Asia-Pacific region makes it an apple of everybody’s eye involving many powers struggling for the dominance of this region. Particularly, the extra-ordinary trade and business opportunities have engaged many competitors like the US, Russia, China, Japan. Whereas, India also continuously attempts to become comparable with the great powers in the region and come under the global political spotlight.
For political and economic reasons, the United States considers and collaborates with the Japan as a major stakeholder of the region. The US strategic plans of rebalancing the Asia Pacific stated in the Department of Defence release of 2012 with the title of Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defence are some of the ambitions about pivot strategy towards the Asia Pacific region covering key policy objectives for the century
The Russian Federation and the Japan are already engaged in a dispute over the control of Northern Territories of Kuril Islands that consist of approximately 56 Islands and minor rocks. The Russian military build-up and the re-arming of the Islands cause unease to Japan and according to the new Russian Naval Doctrine; it considers China as its core ally to counterbalance the Japan and the United States in the Asia Pivot strategy.
Russia blames the US as a major factor in destabilization of the Asia-Pacific, whereas, the US plans of allocating 6 % of its troops under the Pacific Command would further demand Japan’s contribution to counter the China in the region. The Japan, for the first time in the post-war era has taken a shift in its security policy and through its new security doctrine, its forces could be deployed overseas, even without any direct threat to the country or its citizens. Such moves to collaborate with the US in its Asia Pivot strategy will of course drag the Japan into direct conflicts with many other competing powers in the region.
The US under the President Obama’s administration has particularly focused on the Pacific region and in the post 2010-11 eras, a remarkable decline of the US military involvements seen in the Iraq and Afghanistan. The focus shifted to Asia Pacific, and the United States explicitly responded to the Chinese ascendancy in the region. Especially after the nuclear tests of the North Korea, the United States came with sturdy position over supporting the South Korea and despite of the strong objections of China, it carried out naval exercises with South Korea and signaled warnings to the Pyongyang.
The situation became further complex after the Indian role in countering the China. The United States considers India as a key partner and the long-term security investments of the US in India are some of the ambitions about the enduring goals of enabling it as a regional economic anchor and strategic partner in the Indian Ocean region. This defence cooperation with India has been on the main agenda of the US policy mainly because of two reasons, first, the expanding Indian defence market and the business opportunities secondly, the US considers India as a genuine Asian competitor that can challenge the China rise. With its naval power and the defence pacts with five Asia-Pacific powers, the US incorporates into an alliance with the immediate neighbourhood of China.
To counter the growing military posture and the militarization of the South China Sea, China tries to explore a variety of ways to respond to these threats particularly by its strategic partnership with Pakistan. Pakistan is a nuclear power and India’s rival state that enjoys a considerable place in the South Asian region. Moreover, Pakistan’s access to its Gawadar port to China enables and strengthens China’s strategic position and is viewed as a major security and economic challenge by many countries in the geo-strategic scenario.
* The writer works for the Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad and can be reached at [email protected]