Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 6, June 2019
This interview with Dr. Leszek Buszynski, author of Geopolitics and the Western Pacific: China, Japan and the U.S. (Routledge, 2019), took place by email with Dr. Anders Corr between May 31 and June 12.
Anders: What are some of your recommendations in the book?
Leszek: The recommendations are in the final chapter and have been written from the perspective of Australia as a a middle power and ally of the US. Basically, the U.S. relies excessively on military power to counter China but this is creating the fear of a US-China clash in the region from which China benefits, particularly within ASEAN. Scuttling the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a mistake because it is a way of bringing together the states of the region into cooperation with the U.S., Japan and Australia in a way which would offset Chinese influence.
Anders: Don’t you think that China is also creating fear with its military buildup? Wouldn’t countries like Japan and South Korea be even more fearful if they did not have the U.S. military there to protect them?
Leszek: This is not the issue, the answer is of course. But without a broader US presence in the region, one that is not just military based, regional countries such as those in ASEAN would feel the pressure to gravitate to China. China has a way of undermining the U.S. presence and its alliance system by playing on regional fears of conflict and instability, the Philippines under Rodrigo Duterte is a case in point. America has to counteract that. Continue reading
Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 3, March 2019
By Commodore Anil Jai Singh, IN (Retd)
The recent statement by the Commander-in Chief of the US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Phil Davidson at a press conference in Singapore that the ‘Quad’ or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between the USA, Australia, India and Japan may need to be shelved was met with a mixed reaction in the regional maritime security discourse. However, this was not a fatalistic view but rather a tacit acknowledgement of the divergent views amongst the Quad partners on certain fundamental issues. He made this statement based on his discussions with Admiral Sunil Lanba, the Chief of the Indian Navy at the recent Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi where Admiral Lanba said that there was not an immediate potential for the Quad.
The idea of a Quad was first articulated by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the East Asia Summit in 2007; in the same year he spoke of the confluence of the two oceans – the Indian and the Pacific- and introduced the term Indo-Pacific during an address to the Indian Parliament. The first attempt to shape the Quad was the decision to enhance Exercise Malabar — the annual bilateral Indo-US naval exercise into a quadrilateral construct. However, China understandably expressed strong reservations about this as an anti-China initiative. Australia succumbed but a trilateral exercise was nevertheless held between the US, Japan and India. For the next decade, while the Quad was spoken of periodically at various fora, very little was actually happening on the ground to give it concrete shape.
Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 3, March 2019
By Anders Corr, Ph.D.
This article is a slight revision of a talk given on March 13, 2019, in New York City.
Thanks very much for the invitation to speak today, and to all the members of the audience. I want to thank my good friend US Navy Captain James Fanell, who was Director of Intelligence for the US Pacific Fleet. He is not here, but he has been a mentor on the issues I’m covering, and assisted with comments to this presentation.
The full presentation is a combination of material from a book I edited that was published last year by the U.S. Naval Institute Press with the title – Great Powers, Grand Strategies: the New Game in the SCS, and my next book, on the strategy of brinkmanship. This presentation, however, will focus on how China is innovating in the South China Sea on technological and strategic levels.
In a short year since the book was published, the South China Sea conflict has heated up. On March 4 and March 7, 2019, USPACOM, which is the Asian equivalent of CENTCOM and for which I used to work, sent nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over the SCS, including one flight revealed today. USPACOM also recently revealed that China’s military activity in the SCS rose over the past year. China occupied a sand bar near the Philippines island of Pagasa, in the Philippine exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, and Chinese boats purposefully rammed and sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat in the Paracel Islands of the north west SCS, islands that both China and Vietnam claim.Continue reading
Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 12, December 2018
By Captain Robert C. Rubel USN (Ret)
Recently, two US Navy ships conducted a transit of the Taiwan Straits in an exercise of freedom of navigation. Right now, US naval forces can conduct freedom of navigation exercises throughout most of the East Asian littoral, including the South China Sea (SCS) without serious fear that they will provoke open hostilities with the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), but as the PRC builds up its forces and gains more confidence, such an escalation may become a distinct possibility. China started building up its “islands” in 2014, and at the time the US did nothing to stop it. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in the Philippines’ favor in 2015 over the status of Scarborough Shoal and other SCS features, but China ignored the ruling and the US did nothing to enforce the ruling. Now Beijing has its “great wall of SAMs” there and it will likely take war to change things. If China decides in the future to threaten or use force to enforce its claims to the entirety of the SCS as sovereign territory, there will be considerable finger-pointing in Washington concerning “who lost the South China Sea.” US inaction concerning the buildup could be attributed to misdiagnosis of Chinese intent or even a desire to accommodate what was seen as strategically harmless initiatives; however one potential explanation that has implications for future decision making is that the Obama Administration did not feel it had the backing of the international community and more specifically the support of regional countries to take action that would risk war.