China has formally invited its neighbours to pursue a regional security doctrine led by Beijing pointing out the failure of the ‘Rebalance’ strategy of the United States in a Foreign Ministerial Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
In the welcome ceremony of CICA conference in Beijing, Chinese President urged participants to build consensus and step up dialogue to foster a security governance model with Asian features. It also mentioned that the ‘New Model’ is the latest contribution China has made to regional governance.
However, the basic details that what could emerge as China-centric collective security architecture in the Asia-Pacific are still in dilemma. The People’s Daily commentary (One of leading Chinese Newspaper), for instance, only mentioned that, ‘Asian features’ include openness and inclusiveness, as China strongly opposes exclusivity.
Pivot to Asia:
• It is one of Obama Administration’s central foreign policy initiatives. Simply put, the pivot is meant to be a strategic “Re-balancing” of US interests from Europe and the Middle East towards East Asia. It is, however, a vast and dynamic increase in US focus and depth of engagement in the region. To benefit from this shift in global geopolitical dynamism and sustainably grow its economy, the United States is building extensive diplomatic, economic, development, people-to-people and security ties with the region.
• By utilizing ‘forward deployed diplomacy’, the United States has sought to provide reassurance of its lasting commitment in order to cultivate an open, fair, stable and predictable political, economic, and security operating environment across a vast region spanning from India to the United States.
• From friends in Asia, the United States seeks nothing less than their active commitment to building and sustaining this effort on all fronts, so that all countries in the Asia-Pacific region play their part in finding and implementing solutions to shared regional and global challenges, from the proliferation of dangerous weapons to the impacts of climate change.
• Nevertheless, the Obama administration’s policy toward the region has been only a partial success. The rebalance was necessary but not sufficient to meet the challenges confronting US policymakers in the region, chief among them the pressures produced by China’s growing influence.
China’s assertive action against the Pivot to Asia:
• The write up asserted that the launched of the Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy by the US in recent years did not bring Asia Peace, but only uncertainty. It added that a US led alliance system is not the right option to safeguard the peace and stability of Asia. Instead, a system of security governance with Asian features, as suggested by China, will be best for Asian development.
• Tensions between the U.S. and China have spiked after the Chinese responded to the ‘pivot’ with fresh activism in the South China Sea, including construction of artificial islands within waters claimed and controlled by Beijing. Washington has dubbed the growing Chinese assertion as a danger to “freedom of navigation” which could hamper the $5.3 trillion trade that passes through the South China Sea— a charge that Beijing denies.
• Aware of the linkage between the disputes and the acceptance of its doctrinal counter to the U.S. ‘pivot’, the commentary points out that Chinese leaders, during the CICA conference, had “a frank talk about the South China Sea issue and reiterated China’s ‘dual-track approach’, calling for relevant countries to work together with China to safeguard peace and stability”.
• In the run up to the espousal of its new doctrine, the Chinese have launched a regional diplomatic offensive to reinforce that an Asian home-grown solution was the best way to resolve maritime disputes confronting the region. Last month Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi embarked on a whirlwind visit to Cambodia, Laos and Brunei, to cull out what the Chinese Foreign Ministry described as “an important consensus” on the South China Sea issue, which would be relevant to the Association of South East Asian Nations.
Can India balance between China and America?
• India has been building partnerships with the United States, Japan and other middle powers in the Asia-Pacific to balance China as it grows in strength—a policy shaped by India’s own objective conditions, rather than American designs, considering India’s adjacency to China, their power asymmetry, unresolved territorial disputes that erupted into full-scale conflict in 1962, China’s growing strategic partnership with a nuclear-capable Pakistan (which remains a “national obsession” for India) and Chinese maritime ascendancy in the Indian Ocean.
• “Adjacency” between two states is, according to the ancient Indian principle, a “fruitful source of rivalry and differences.” This principle appears relevant in the case of India-China relations. Both are simultaneously rising with divergent aspirations in the Asia-Pacific, increasing their mutual security dilemma. The proximity of China and Pakistan to India, and their strategic alignment, would require India to forge close ties with the United States and other outside powers to preserve balance.
• At the same time, India’s growing economic, political and military relations with actors in the Asia-Pacific are doing more than balancing against China—they are serving its great-power ambition. Therefore, India has many reasons to cooperate and coordinate with entities in the Indo-Pacific, including motives that are not directly related to China.