South China Sea
Two scenarios for the future of U.S.-China relations
There are no longer any illusions that the U.S. sees any potential in partnership with China. The two countries have entered into a strategic competition that in the worst case, could quickly become a cold war-style confrontation. Negotiation on the biggest economic sticking points could ease tensions, but only for the short to medium term. The emerging rivalry of the two powers is with us to stay.
Mounting tension in Asia
Pressure is building in relations between the U.S. and China, especially after the recent APEC summit. However, the heightened rhetoric used there could give both countries a chance to climb down and come to a deal. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will have a perfect opportunity to do so during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
U.S.-India ties are still strengthening
India imports oil from Iran and buys arms from Russia, while trying to mend fences with Beijing. All this seems anathema to American policy, and now President Donald Trump has turned down an invitation to visit India in January. But reports that the U.S.-India relationship is on the rocks are premature.
The burgeoning India-Japan partnership
Japan and India are fast becoming close partners. Small wonder: the two countries both want to counteract China's rise, especially in the Indian Ocean. The countries have strengthened economic and military ties, and together could challenge China at sea. As Beijing attempts to project its power ever further, the Indo-Japanese partnership will only grow.
Regional shifts are marginalizing ASEAN
In the huge geopolitical shifts happening in East Asia and the Indo-Pacific, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been conspicuously absent. Split over Chinese activity in the South China Sea, the organization is unready to face these new challenges. If ASEAN becomes irrelevant, it will impact the big players, such as the U.S. and China, too – they will have lost a major facilitator of peace and stability in the region.
Duterte’s impact at the two-year mark
When President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in the Philippines, his plan to reorient the country’s geopolitics toward Beijing and away from Washington was a shock. But reality has set in – although Manila now takes a more neutral line, the U.S. still plays a crucial role in the Philippines’ security. The public is also wary of China, whose aggressive moves in the South China Sea could cause an uproar and force Mr. Duterte to realign with Washington.
East Asia after the Pax Americana
Since the end of the Korean War, the American military presence in East Asia has been crucial to maintaining a balance of power in the region and preventing the outbreak of a major war. Now, with China rising and the United States withdrawing, Japan has been left in limbo. Tokyo must now decide how to tackle some daunting challenges.
In Western capitals, shifting attitudes on China
Washington and Europe’s major capitals are taking a more critical view of China, and concern about the implications of Chinese investment is on the rise. The question is whether these governments can align their policies to formulate a coordinated response to the challenges posed by China’s rise. The international rules-based order is at stake.
ASEAN: A nexus of conflict and prosperity
For the first time since the Vietnam War, Southeast Asia has become a cockpit for great-power rivalries. China’s inexorable rise has split the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which had become a regional broker for peace and prosperity. The ASEAN countries have the demographics and infrastructure to leapfrog into the ranks of the advanced economies, but everything depends on whether China’s growing dominance can be accommodated peacefully.
Indonesia moves to assert its maritime interests between two oceans
Indonesia has adopted a maritime development strategy that calls for infrastructure buildup and exploitation of sea-based resources, including offshore oil and gas drilling. Logical as this strategy could be for an archipelagic state with huge development needs, it may easily put the politically cautious Jakarta on a collision course with Beijing.