What the Pivot Means
Before the heat of US elections and Chinese transition of power cooled off, the well times East Asia Summit and the ASEAN meet at Phnom Phen has focused world attention on SE Asia. With President Obama, Prime Minister Wen Zia Bao and Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh participating in the conference, the great game in Asia-Pacific is entering an interesting stage of global geopolitics, especially in view of America’s ‘Pivot’ to the East. Combined with India’s “Look East” Policy the three major players in this game US, China and India are jostling for influence in the region. What happens now?
As per security analysts, this Obama initiative is a part of US strategy of containing China in Asia-Pacific while China is keen to exert its influence in its soft under belly by retaining its strategic hold over ASEAN countries. India, which has great stakes in both expanding ASEAN and using its geographical leverage in Indo – Pacific (Indian and Pacific Oceans) to contain China’s hagemonistic rise in the region is being wooed strongly by the US to become its strategic partner. As per Chidanand Rajghatta, in an opinion piece in the Times of India of Nov 17, titled “With one eye on Beijing, US signals “ full embrace of Delhi”, leaving little doubt that the US sees India as a counter weight to China regardless of what China, India itself and the rest of the world thinks of the idea and their response to it. President Obama’s visits to Myanmar (also called Burma) Thailand and Cambodia are part of this larger game to make new allies in the region. Monika Chansoria of CLAWS, quotes US State Department official, William Burns as stating that “A healthy US – China relationship is central to the future of the Asia-Pacific region and the global economy”. As per her, the sentiment notwithstanding the conflict and cooperation between their relations cannot be considered as mutually exclusive. Chinese state media has for some time now viewed ‘security rebalancing’ as inimical to Chinese interests in the region and have opined that “China has become a firm strategic target of the US”. Chinese media is also weary of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a new economic and trade model in Asia pacific marginalising China. As per Kaplan, “Unquestionably, there is deep strategic mistrust between the two countries. China’s rapid economic growth, steady military modernization, and relentless nationalistic propaganda at home are shaping Chinese public expectations and limiting possibilities for compromise with other powers”.