Showing posts with label South East Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South East Asia. Show all posts

8 March 2017

Lawmakers’ Letters Endorse McCain Plan To Reinforce Pacific, Assist Asian Allies By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.

Graphic courtesy Sen. Dan Sullivan

A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives is urging Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to budget $1.5 billion a year to reinforce US forces in the Pacific to better support Asian allies, stiffening their spines against Chinese intimidation. Known as the Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative and endorsed by the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, it’s a proposal first put forward by Senate Armed Services chairman John McCain. You can read the different letters from the House and Senate below.

Both documents warn against the rising power of China. The Senators also cite the threat of North Korea and of Russian forces in the Pacific. For its part, the more detailed House letter explicitly likens the McCain plan to the European Reassurance Initiative, created after the Russian conquest of Crimea to reassure US allies in the region. The representatives add the initiative could fund expanded international exercises, investments in infrastructure and munitions, and increased presence of US forces.

5 March 2017

Fencing of India-Myanmar border vital to combating northeastern insurgency

By Rupak Bhattacharjee

The recent realignment of the North Eastern militant groups and their increasing terror activities in the India-Myanmar border areas are posing a threat to the region’s peace, security and stability. Unlike India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders, there is neither proper border road nor fencing along the India-Myanmar frontier. The porous international border has become a serious internal security concern for the state and union governments. 

In an untoward incident on January 31, 2017, at least one army jawan was injured when suspected National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Khaplang) or NSCN (K) militants ambushed an army convoy in Longding district of Arunachal Pradesh. The site of the attack is only 7 km from the inter-state border in Assam’s Charaideo district. Reports say one NSCN (K) militant was killed in the retaliatory firing.

In another major incident on January 22, about 15-20 militants ambushed an Assam Rifles (AR) vehicle, killing two AR troopers and injuring three others, while two of the rebels were also killed in the ensuing encounter at Jagun 12th Mile Barabasti on NH-153 in Tinsukia district of Assam. The militants launched the attack when hundreds of tourists were passing through the area to attend the three-day (January 20-22) Pangsau Pass Festival, which is held every year at Nampong in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The prime attraction of the festival is the famous Stillwell Road that was built during World War II.

28 February 2017

** Think Asia Will Dominate the 21st Century? Think Again.

Dov S. Zakheim

Michael R. Auslin deconstructs the tensions lurking below the region’s prosperous surface.

MICHAEL R. Auslin opens his book with a preface entitled “The Asia that Nobody Sees.” He might better have entitled it “Hiding in Plain Sight.” For far too long, but especially during the Obama years, policymakers chose to focus on Asia’s remarkable economic growth, coupled with an era of relative peace. Too often they overlooked economic, demographic, social, political and military tensions that did not lurk all that far below Asia’s shiny surface.

Barack Obama, who spent part of his formative years in Indonesia, was a leading cheerleader for the concept of the Asian century. He seemed to care little about Europe and preferred to avoid the troubles of the Middle East as much as possible. He embraced the notion of a rising Asia that soon would constitute America’s most vital interests. It was in that spirit, too, that Hillary Clinton announced the “pivot to Asia,” which was meant to refocus American military power and political and economic priorities away from Europe and the Middle East and instead underscore Asia’s importance to the United States.

22 February 2017

Reviving the Quad: Japan, India, the U.S., and Australia 144 Shares

By Lavina Lee

If Donald Trump’s Twitter feed and the words of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are to be believed, Washington is set to defend disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea from being ‘overtaken’ by Beijing, as part of an effort to stand up to China more generally. While the Obama administration’s approach was more diplomatic, the perceived lack of consistency and backbone when it came to standing up to China spooked many throughout the Indo–Pacific wanting to see stronger US resolve.

If President Trump proves genuinely ready to step into the fray where his predecessor did not, like-minded states will have an opportunity to take stronger steps to defend the existing regional order. Having said that, there will be no free rides. As Trump has said, regional allies and partners will need to contribute more to their own security.

If that’s the case, it might be time to revisit the Quadrilateral Initiative.

Much has changed since Kevin Rudd unilaterally withdrew from the grouping in 2008. China’s assertive actions to extend and defend its territorial claims in the East and South China seas have undermined its own rhetoric about a peaceful rise. While Beijing’s complete rejection of the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling in its dispute with the Philippines was anticipated, it also exacerbated fears about how China will use its growing military might and political influence.

21 February 2017

2 Maps That Show The US’ Strategy In Asia-Pacific


Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently wrapped up his first international trip whose purpose was to “listen to the concerns of South Korean and Japanese leaders.”

The two countries are crucial US allies in Asia, and both face serious threats in their near abroad.

Discussing security threats, though, wasn’t the main goal of Mattis’s trip. He was there to assure both countries that the Trump administration will not abandon the US alliance structure in the Pacific.

20 February 2017

*** The Rise of Uyghur Militancy in and Beyond Southeast Asia: An Assessment

By Nodirbek Soliev

In this article, Nodirbek Soliev looks at 1) the growing disaffection of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China; 2) their susceptibility to recruitment by IS and Al Qaeda; and 3) their movement into Southeast Asia, where the more radicalized among them might link up with existing militant groups. To blunt these trends, Soliev believes the Chinese government must develop comprehensive counter-radicalization and community engagement strategies, and focus more aggressively on winning the “hearts and minds” of the Uyghur community.

Southeast Asia is witnessing evolving security risks from Chinese Uyghurs’ involvement in militant activities in the region. Although this is a relatively new phenomenon, it has transnational security implications for the region. This article assesses the threat of Uyghur militancy in Southeast Asia and beyond.


First reports of Uyghur militants’ presence in Southeast Asia emerged in September 2014 when Indonesian police arrested four Uyghurs attempting to link up with Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT or Mujahidin Indonesia Timor), a militant group in Sulawesi that has pledged allegiance to the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) terrorist group. Since then, six more Uyghurs had been killed among MIT militants (Sangadji 2016). In August 2015, two Uyghurs were found to be among the masterminds and perpetrators of the Bangkok bombing (Vonow 2016) which killed 20 people and injured over 120. On 5 August 2016, Indonesian police arrested five members of a Batam-based terrorist cell known as Katibah GR, which had reportedly received funding from the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) (formerly known as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM)), an Al Qaeda-linked Uyghur terrorist group fighting in Syria and Afghanistan. Katibah GR was involved in smuggling and harbouring two Uyghurs (The Straits Times 2016), one of them, named Ali, was arrested in December 2015. This article argues that terrorist networks linked to the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) and Al Qaeda are attempting to build connections with human smuggling networks to recruit Uyghurs coming from Xinjiang. IS and its local affiliates in Southeast Asia are keen to recruit and mobilise disenfranchised and radical-minded Uyghurs for their militant activities in the region. However, Al Qaeda’s affiliates, al-Nusra Front (now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) and TIP in Syria, appear to be mainly interested in safeguarding existing recruitment channels in Southeast Asia to further their fight in the Middle East, rather than expanding their operations in Southeast Asia.

19 February 2017

Globalization In The Asian Century – Analysis

By Jonathan Perraton

Predictions that the 21st century will be the Asian century appear to have been borne out already. From the 1990s there has been a decisive shift in global economic activity—current projections pit the centre of economic activity globally between India and China by the middle of the century.[1] This shift in economic activity—arguably a return to patterns before the industrial revolution—has occurred over an unprecedentedly short period of time. Over 2003-2013, the global median level of real income nearly doubled.[2] This was essentially an Asian effect, the only region to experience sustained productivity growth and catch-up this century; above all, this transformation has been driven by Chinese and Indian growths.

China is likely to overtake the United States soon as the world’s largest economy and the World Economic Forum predicts that India will become the world’s third-largest economy by 2030.[3] Asian economies succeeded through embracing globalisation, but they did so on their terms. More subtly, emerging economies have come to play a much greater role in global economic governance, notably as the G7 was superseded by the G20 and through a more active role within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in particular. Further, emerging economies have started to construct institutions of international economic cooperation and governance parallel to existing ones established and dominated by Western powers.

8 February 2017

United States Forward Defence Perimeter in Western Pacific 2017 Reviewed

Paper No. 6219 Dated 06-Feb-2017
By Dr Subhash Kapila

The United States Forward Defence Perimeter in the Western Pacific ever since 1945 has been an effective shield and a first line of defence for Mainland USA, first against the Soviet Union and now against an increasingly belligerent China’s geopolitical designs.

China as a military threat weighs heavily in threat perceptions of not only the Asia Pacific nations but increasingly also in threat perceptions of the United States. Militarily, China can be assessed as not being powerful enough to militarily challenge the United States directly. China’s immediate priority, in the interim, is to dilute US Forward Military Presence in the Western Pacific by subtle political and military coercion of US traditional allies in the region like Japan, South Korea and the Philippine. These nations are essential components of the US Forward Defence Perimeter and the United States should never ever allow a rising militaristic China to breach this Perimeter. The United States must guard against any acts of commission or omission in US policies which could facilitate such a breach.

US Forward Defence Perimeter comprises of nearly 100,000 Forward Military Presence deployed on a network of military bases hosted by South Korea and Japan primarily, and a complete US Marines Division-sized Expeditionary Force based in Okinawa, Japan. Supplementing this presence are sizeable US Air Force assets based in both these countries and US Navy Seventh Fleet. Philippines, despite current strains in relationship is likely to fall back in line, once again, as another important component of this network.

Reviewing the United States Forward Defence Perimeter in the Western Pacific in February 2017, just a month away from US President Trump’s inauguration, it is assuring for Asian nations to note that no changes have occurred in terms of dilution of US deployments or putting US traditional security ties with Japan and South Korea under strain, as President Trump’s election rhetoric indicated.

7 February 2017


Source Link
Michael R. Auslin,

Viewed from a distance, Asia appears the stable driver of global economic growth. Corporate forecasts and business outlooks show big bets are being made that present growth trends will continue. Boeing, for example, is betting that roughly 40 percent of new aircraft deliveries for the next 20 years will be in Asia. It is easy for the big stories of Asian economic modernization — of hundreds of millions lifted out of poverty, trillions of dollars invested in infrastructure, the rise of India and China, etc. — to overshadow the contested rocks, reefs, and islands in the South and East China Seas. The bright lights of Shanghai’s skyline blind us to China’s volatility. The booming e-commerce businesses, estimated at more than $500 billion, suggest a youthful dynamism belied by emerging demographic bottlenecks that will transform Asian societies and labor markets.

Michael Auslin’s The End of Asian Century offers a welcome antidote to the Panglossian paeans to Asian growth to which we have been subjected for years. Auslin forcefully argues that the risks emerging amid the region’s relentless growth need to be addressed honestly for Asia to thrive in the next two decades and for the United States to benefit. This gives his narrative the classic two parts of a Beltway book: the identification and elaboration of problems followed by presenting policy options. 

Auslin elegantly succeeds in the former but is less convincing when he turns to the latter. Yet he still succeeds in outlining the bare minimum that Washington should consider as part of its Asia policy.

Any piece of writing, especially a book, has holes that invite critics to rip it apart. The wide swathe Auslin cuts across Asia provides an indefensible frontier. The scope is huge. Area experts will be tempted to pick apart Auslin’s arguments for their pet countries and haggle over the details with their pens in the book’s margins. The End of the Asian Century is not for them. It is, however, for those who are forced to live in the wider world. The book seems meant for the kind of engaged reader who regularly reads the news but lacks a framework for appreciating regional dynamics on the other side of the Pacific. To be true to the book’s purpose specialists should judge the book less on its specifics than its ability to generate useful questions going forward.

Auslin makes the core argument that Asia is more dangerous than economic success stories credit it, and its future deserves better scrutiny than an assumption of straight-line growth; this argument is divided into five parts. Each part addresses a different theme in Auslin’s evaluation of risk, and, as will become apparent, those parts are interconnected. The first is failed or failing economic reforms. 

Asia, not simply China, became the world’s workshop. Many of these countries, however, have struggled to rebalance their economies, allowing waste and corruption to enervate their future potential. The challenges obviously differ between mature economies like Japan, developing countries like Vietnam, and more mixed economies like China and India. But, all face thus far unmet challenges in maintaining economic growth across the next generation.

6 February 2017

Army Must Be Ready For Multi-Domain Battle In Pacific ‘Tomorrow’

Source Link

A Punisher unmanned ground vehicle follows soldiers during the PACMAN-I experiment in Hawaii.

WASHINGTON: With one eye on China and another on North Korea, US Army Pacific is injecting cyber warfare and new joint tactics into every wargame it can. At least 30 forthcoming exercises — culminating in the massive RIMPAC 2018 — will train troops on aspects of Multi-Domain Battle, the land Army’s effort to extend its reach into the other “domains” of air, sea, space, and cyberspace. Meanwhile, USARPAC simulations of the concept test near-future weapons such as ship-killer missiles and cruise missile-killing cannon.

US Army Pacific commander Gen. Robert Brown (right) with Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley (left).

“The big advantage we have in the Pacific is we’ve got a boss that is pushing us,” said Gen. Robert Brown, the USARPAC commander, during a visit to Washington last week. That’s Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris, a fan of Multi-Domain Battle. Harris has got PACOM’s components — Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine — working together as Brown has never seen before, the general said.

There’s a real sense of urgency on Multi-Domain Battle in the Pacific, too Brown told the Center for a New American Security. “This isn’t something 10 years from now,” he said. “If Kim Jong-un goes south tomorrow, I will need some of this tomorrow.”

A land war in North Korea is Gen. Brown’s top concern. That’s where the US Army has stood ready to “fight tonight” since 1953. But Pyongyang’s investments in nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, drones, cyber attack, and special forces might make a second Korean War murderously more complex than the first. That type of threat drives much of Multi-Domain Battle’s emphasis on air, missile, and cyber defense.

4 February 2017

The South China Sea – Some Fundamental Strategic Principles

Source Link

With the incoming administration likely to grapple early with South China Sea issues, the CSIS Southeast Asia Program, directed by Dr. Amy Searight, worked in collaboration with other Asia colleagues at CSIS—Dr. Michael Green, Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair; Dr. Zack Cooper, Fellow, Japan Chair; Bonnie Glaser, Senior Adviser for Asia and Director, China Power Project; Andrew Shearer, Senior Adviser on Asia-Pacific Security; and Greg Poling, Director Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative—to provide the analytical context and some fundamental principles that should guide strategic thinking on South China Sea policy.

A critical and early Chinese test of U.S. resolve is likely to come in the South China Sea, where Washington has struggled to respond effectively to assertive Chinese behavior. 

Enduring U.S. interests—freedom of navigation and overflight, support for the rules-based international order, and the peaceful resolution of disputes—are at risk in the region. U.S. goals to uphold regional alliances and partnerships, defend international rules and norms, and maintain a productive relationship with China remain valid. China has seized the initiative in the South China Sea, however, and the United States needs to revamp its strategy to reverse current trends and escape the trap of reactive and ineffectual policymaking. To this end, the new administration should perform an early, top-down, and thorough strategic review to enable greater consistency and effectiveness in U.S. South China Sea policy.

China is undertaking a persistent, long-term effort to establish control over the South China Sea. Under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has undertaken more assertive policies that have greatly improved Beijing’s position in the South China Sea. China remains uncompromising on sovereignty, has increased its capability to enforce its de facto control in disputed areas, and has sought to advance its claims while staying below the threshold for direct military conflict with the United States. 

China has steadily built capabilities and infrastructure, most notably military facilities on artificial islands, that enable greater control of the South China Sea. The growing size and capability of the Chinese air force, navy, and coast guard allow Beijing to consistently monitor and exercise de facto control over most of the South China Sea. China’s island outposts will increase this advantage as Chinese aircraft, ships, and paramilitary vessels will be able to rest and resupply in the southern portion of the South China Sea. 

28 January 2017

Emerging Trans-Regional corridors: South and Southeast Asia


A broadly interconnected Asia sees the simultaneous rise of India and China as strong states and even stronger markets. New ideas and initiatives of trans-regional economic corridors to further link regions of Asia and beyond have been emerging in recent years. China has initiated the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road (together the One Belt, One Road or OBOR) with the aim to link the country with and those of Central and Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean region, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Japan has been involved in developing strategic corridors in South and Southeast Asia. India has been pushing for strengthening its linkages with Southeast Asia and Central Asia. Similarly, the United States has envisioned an Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor to bridge South and Southeast Asia. Within this context, this volume attempts to capture the rationales behind the various initiatives with a specific focus on linking South and Southeast Asia. The papers in the volume assess the economic and strategic implications of the trans-regional economic corridors in South and Southeast Asia.


Emerging Trans-Regional Corridors: Perspectives from South and Southeast Asia | K. Yhome and Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy 

Linking South and Southeast Asia 

Connecting South Asia with Southeast Asia: A Reality Check | Tariq A. Karim 

India:The Bridge Linking South and Southeast Asia | Sreeradha Datta 

Projects, Proposals and Plans 

Quarantine? What Are American Options for the South China Sea?


Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who had expressed serious reservations about Rex Tillerson, President Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of State, said Sunday afternoon they would vote for him, pretty much assuring his elevation. The most combustible part of Tillerson’s testimony was about how to handle a rising China’s actions in the South and East China Seas — comments which White House spokesman Sean Spicer seemed to echo — so I asked Dean Cheng, one of the top experts on the Chinese military, to parse Tillerson’s comments and give readers a sense of what should be done. Read on. The Editor.

During his confirmation hearings for Secretary of State, nominee Rex Tillerson compared Chinese island building to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and said the United States needed to send a “clear signal that first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands also not going to be allowed.”

Not surprisingly, these comments aroused a heated response from Beijing, which reiterated its claims to the South China Sea. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has ignored a legal finding by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague which found that China’s Nine Dash Line provides no legal basis for its claims in the South China Sea.

Chinese artificial island

If Tillerson meant to signal that the United States will blockade the various artificial islands, this would constitute a most serious threat. A blockade is an act of war under international law. But just as President Kennedy chose to invoke a “quarantine” during the Cuban Missile Crisis, rather than a blockade, there are presumably other means to affect Chinese efforts to secure the South China Sea short of ringing the islands with US Navy ships.

20 January 2017

Let's Face It, China's Military Now Dominates ASEAN

By Peter Layton

Over the last year, there has been a sharp regional strategic shift. In the South China Sea, China has built six large islands, three substantial air bases and three sizeable electronic surveillance installations. China has effectively moved some 1100km closer to Australia, deep into the geographic heart of the ASEAN region. 

Such territorial expansionism is particularly worrying given recent Chinese military developments. Chinese airpower is being rapidly transformed through a major decade-long modernisation program that, as President Xi Jinping directed in 2014, is now accelerating. China’s air force has moved from having obsolete 1950s technology to today operating modern combat aircraft and highly-advanced surface to air missile systems. 

With its new air bases and leading-edge air power, China now has the strategic initiative in South East Asia. Whenever it chooses, China can deploy to its South China Sea airbases an air combat force larger and more capable than any ASEAN air force. 

Of ASEAN’s air forces, Singapore’s is the most capable, operating some 100 modern fighters, albeit many are normally located offshore at foreign training bases. Given typical maintenance processes and adequate warning, some 50-75 fighters could be surged in a crisis. In contrast, China operates more than a 1000 modern fighters and could deploy 75-100 aircraft across the three islands. China has some further advantages in having sophisticated, readily-deployable surface-to-air missile systems for high-quality island air defence while its fighter aircraft operate elsewhere. Singapore is less well equipped and would need to retain a sizeable fighter force for home air defence purposes. Moreover, China has a variety of long-range land-attack missiles; Singapore does not. 

15 January 2017

** 2017 Preview: Southeast Asia is set to embrace more volatility

by Qingzhen Chen

Southeast Asia in 2016 has been marked by busy political agendas, challenges by ethnic tensions, religious conflicts, and regional stability marred by external developments, most notably the US presidential election. As the region embraces for more volatility in 2017, we take a look at some of the key trends and events that happened over the last 12 months, and how they might continue to shape 2017.

A disengaged US administration

Trump has promised to abandon the high profile trade agreement Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam are members of. The death of TPP could well mark the beginning of a slow death of globalisation and free trade. While the TPP is just one of the many global and regional trade treaties that the US is not a part of, the country has greatly upheld its liberal values and a retreat from such a high profile treaty is hardly conducive to the free flow of capital and goods. Many of the Southeast Asian TPP members had hoped that the TPP would help them to carry out reforms such as liberalisations and regulations, but have been let down by Trump’s election victory.

2 January 2017

Global Threat Forecast 2017 – Analysis

By Rohan Gunaratna

In 2017, the so-called Islamic State (IS) will decentralise posing a pre-eminent terrorist threat. To deter the international community against continued intervention in its heartland IS will stage attacks worldwide.

Four significant developments will characterise the global threat landscape in 2017. First, it is likely that the so-called Islamic State (IS) will transform from a caliphate-building entity into a global terrorist movement. In a manner similar to Al Qaeda (AQ) that had dispersed from its Afghanistan-Pakistan core in 2001-2002 to conflict zones worldwide, IS will refocus on consolidating the distant wilayats (provinces) to serve as bastions of its power.

Second, death of either the IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi or AQ leader Ayman al Zawahiri, may lead to collaboration or possible unification of the most powerful terrorist groups. In this regard, the discord between IS and AQ is a leadership dispute and not ideological in nature. Third, IS, AQ and their associates will compensate for their losses in the physical space by expanding further into cyber space. Despite government and technology firms collaborating to monitor the cyber space, the battle-space of threat groups in the virtual communities will continue to operate and grow.

1 January 2017

How East Asia Got 6 Of The World's Most Powerful Armed Forces

Ralph Jennings

China boasts East Asia’s strongest armed forces. It ranks below only the United States and Russia worldwide. No wonder Taiwan’s defense ministry scrambled two F-16 fighters and two reconnaissance aircraft to track a Chinese aircraft carrier as it worked the perimeter of the nearby island’s territorial waters this week, watching the fleet ease back toward a port in China.

But Taiwan’s military ranks 10th in Asia on the scale that puts China in third place. Also in Asia, Japan ranks No. 4 and South Korea No. 6. Indonesia comes in eighth and Vietnam ninth for the region. All of these armed forces rank in the database’s top 20 of 126 countries analyzed worldwide, coming in before much of Europe and the Middle East. The survey evaluates countries based on weapons stocks, numbers of troops (including reserves) and potentially available troops if a country were to require military service. Geographic position can also help increase a country’s rank.

Why the East Asian countries have bulked up their armed forces goes back to the Chinese aircraft carrier – called the Liaoning and apparently China’s only one. The strongest armed forces in the region outside China have bulked up largely to resist China. “China is the biggest single factor accounting for military modernization and build-ups in the region,” says Denny Roy, senior fellow at the East-West Center, a U.S. think tank.

31 December 2016

Taiwan, Trump, & The Pacific Defense Grid: Towards Deterrence In Depth


Taiwan lies deep inside the kill zone of Chinese land-based missiles, let alone air and naval forces, as shown in this CSBA graphic.

The phone call between President-elect Trump and the President of Taiwan sent shock waves through the diplomatic community. But it is time to turn the page and include Taiwan in shaping a 21st century deterrence strategy for Pacific defense.

21 December 2016

** Asia’s fight over fresh water


NEW DELHI – Asia, the world’s largest and fastest-developing continent, has less fresh water per capita than any other continent. This has helped foster growing interstate and intrastate disputes over shared water resources. An MIT study published this year found a high risk that Asia’s current water crisis could worsen to severe water shortages by 2050.

In this light, water is emerging as a key challenge for long-term Asian peace and stability. Yet Asia’s maritime-security challenges draw much greater international attention than its river-water disputes. This is largely because sea-related issues, such as in the South China Sea, affect even outside powers by threatening the safety of sea lanes and freedom of navigation. The truth is this: Asia’s sharpening competition over transnationally shared freshwater resources holds strategic ramifications just as ominous as those relating to maritime territorial disputes.

Recent developments are highlighting how the competition and fight over shared water resources is a major contributory factor to the growing geopolitical discord and tensions in Asia.

In fact, China’s “territorial grab” in the South China Sea has been accompanied by a quieter “freshwater grab” in transnational river basins. Re-engineering transboundary water flows is integral to China’s strategy to employ power, control and influence to fashion a strongly Sino-centric Asia.

18 December 2016

Is the US Losing East Asia to China?

By Bob Savic

In Southeast and Northeast Asia, old partners are drifting away from the U.S. and toward China. 

The election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency is continuing to send shockwaves in the corridors of power across East Asia. Yet even before the results of the 2016 US elections became known, the tremors of political change in the region were already evident. Arguably, the U.S. president-elect has only added fuel to the fire of America’s relations with East Asia.

The trend in emerging rifts between a number of formerly U.S.-centric East Asian states and the Obama administration had been visible, under the radar, for several years. However, in the last few weeks and months before the American elections, there was an eruption of anti-American sentiment, principally from the increasingly populist-oriented democracies of Southeast Asia.

The Philippines’ Economic and Political Pivot to China