This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the division of the Korean Peninsula. Yet full peace and reconciliation is far from being achieved in Northeast Asia.
Tensions between Japan, China, and the Koreas over territorial disputes, historical issues and nuclear weapons programs, exacerbated by overall regional trends of nationalism and militarism, are triggering an arms race and creating a climate of increasing mistrust among key Northeast Asian countries. The security environment in the region has been additionally complicated by the US “rebalancing” to Asia, including its strengthening of alliance in Northeast Asia. Ongoing efforts by the current Japanese administration to revise the country’s war-renouncing constitution play a further detrimental role in this regard.
According to SIPRI’s latest report, there is a 16% increase in the volume of arms transferred around the world. The world’s biggest arms exporters in the past five years were the US, Russia, China, Germany and France. China’s exports of major arms rose by 143% in the five years to 2014 from the previous five years. Germany’s arms exports fell by 43% and France’s dropped 27% in the same time frame.
India was the world’s largest single arms importer. Four other Asian countries, China, Pakistan, South Korea and Singapore, are also among the top 10 largest arms importers.
British MPs voted in favour of keeping defence spending at 2% of GDP. Just 40 MPs voted and the result carries no legal force.
Rory Stewart, Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border and chairman of the defence select committee, warned MPs that Britain could not continue to rely on the military might of America and be a “freeloader”. “This 2% is needed because the threats are real. The world is genuinely getting more dangerous,” he said.
In Seumas Milnes’s piece ‘The demonisation of Russia risks paving the way for war‘, he argues that “Ukraine – along with Isis – is being used to revive the doctrines of liberal interventionism and even neoconservatism, discredited on the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan.” Hundreds of US troops are arriving in Ukraine and Britain is sending 75 military advisers of its own. This is a direct violation of last month’s Minsk agreement, negotiated with France and Germany – Article 10 requires the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Ukraine.
But when the latest Minsk ceasefire breaks down, as it surely will, there is a real risk that Ukraine’s proxy conflict could turn into full-scale international war.
I read this commentary article about the news that
In early March, Taiwan’s defense minister Yen Ming estimated the island nation could resist a Chinese onslaught “at least one month”—and that’s assuming other countries aid in Taipei’s defense.
The point of the article is that Taiwan has only itself to blame for its hopelessness against a Chinese invasion because why have Taiwan not kept up their military spending with China’s ever increasing military budget.
Robert Windrem, “Japan Has Nuclear ‘Bomb in the Basement,’ and China Isn’t Happy,” 12 March 2014, NBC News
… But government officials and proliferation experts say Japan is happy to let neighbors like China and North Korea believe it is part of the nuclear club, because it has a “bomb in the basement” -– the material and the means to produce nuclear weapons within six months, according to some estimates. And with tensions rising in the region, China’s belief in the “bomb in the basement” is strong enough that it has demanded Japan get rid of its massive stockpile of plutonium and drop plans to open a new breeder reactor this fall. …
27 February 2014, 京华时报
Zack Beauchamp, “Why Everyone Needs To Stop Freaking Out About War With China,” 07 February 2014, ThinkProgress
… It’s wrong to talk about incentives to go war in purely military terms. A key component of the Senkaku/Diaoyou is economic: the islands contain a ton of natural resources, particularly oil and gas. But far more valuable are the trade ties between the two countries. China is Japan’s largest export market, so war would hurt Japan more than China, but it’d be pretty painful for both.
Stephen M. Walt, “National Stupidity,” Foreign Policy, 14 January 2014
From Sea to Chinese Sea
… But that same force is also leading China to engage in a number of foolish and self-defeating behaviors. In particular, its aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea, its recent unilateral declaration of an offshore “air defense identification zone,” and its hard-line stance in the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute have discredited Beijing’s earlier assurances about a “peaceful rise” and alarmed many of its Asian neighbors. Whatever one may think of China’s claims, this behavior is dumb, because it encourages China’s neighbors to balance more vigorously and makes them eager for more U.S. protection. It would be smarter for Beijing to play the long game and refrain from such demands until China is much stronger than it is today. But given national feeling in China itself, it is not clear that China’s leaders can maintain such a wise and patient approach.
Jacob Kushner, “China’s Congo Plan,” The American Interest, 10 January 2014
The Chinese are by no means the world’s first to seek their fortunes in Congo. But unlike the Western powers whose legacy is burdened to this day by colonialism, China’s footprints in Africa have been relatively “conflict-free.” During the first decade of the 21st century, at least 230,000 Chinese immigrated to Africa—as many as one million by some estimates. They opened import businesses, electronics shops, pharmacies and restaurants. Chinese trade with Africa blossomed, and China began looking for ways to help some of its state-owned companies to do more business across the continent than ever before. Two Chinese state banks began loaning money to companies willing to make bold investments. China’s Export-Import Bank, the smaller of the two, now provides more loans to sub-Saharan Africa than the World Bank, loans increasingly used to develop African infrastructure. By 2006, Chinese companies were investing more than $6 billion per year in roads, railways and other public infrastructure projects across Africa. By 2015, the figure is expected reach $50 billion. …
John Cassidy, “What’s Happening in 2014? Twelve Questions Answered,” The New Yorker, 3 January 2014
9. Will the Chinese economic miracle continue? Yes. After thirty years of rapid growth, the Chinese economy is now threatening to overtake the U.S. economy as the world’s largest, according to some measures. But there’s still plenty of scope for so-called “catch-up growth.” In terms of G.D.P. per person, the United States is still about five times as rich as China. Even middle-income countries such as Latvia and Chile are twice as rich. But with the formerly Communist nation still spending close to fifty per cent of its G.D.P. on infrastructure projects, education, and other forms of investment, the gap is likely to keep closing for some time. That’s what happened in other fast-growing Asian economies that industrialized earlier, such as Japan and Korea, and there’s no reason to expect China will be different.
“Japan boosts military forces to counter China,” BBC News, 17 December 2013
Japan’s cabinet has approved a new national security strategy and increased defence spending in a move widely seen as aimed at China.
Over the next five years, Japan will buy hardware including drones, stealth aircraft and amphibious vehicles. Continue reading
Tom Risen, “Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey: Troops Needed in Afghanistan,” U.S. News & World Report, 18 November 2013
On the subject of China as a possible future threat, Dempsey said there was a chance for good diplomacy with that country and that military competition “doesn’t have to be confrontational.”
“The Chinese have a different view of time than anyone else,” Dempsey said about China’s potential for patient diplomacy. “I worry more about a China that falters economically than I do about them building another aircraft carrier.”
“China-India reach border defence pact,” Al Jazeera, 23 October
China and India have signed a deal aimed at soothing tension on their contested border, as the two countries try to break a decades-old stalemate on overlapping claims to remote stretches of the Himalayas. …
Edward Wong And Nicola Clark, “China’s Arms Industry Makes Global Inroads,” New York Times, 20 October 2013
Industry executives and arms-sales analysts say the Chinese probably beat out their more established rivals by significantly undercutting them on price, offering their system at $3 billion. Nonetheless, Turkey’s selection of a Chinese state-owned manufacturer is a breakthrough for China, a nation that has set its sights on moving up the value chain in arms technology and establishing itself as a credible competitor in the global weapons market.
“This is a remarkable win for the Chinese arms industry,” said Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks arms sales and transfers. …
Liu Chang, “U.S. fiscal failure warrants a de-Americanized world,” Xinhua, 13 october 2013
As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world. …