U.S. shifting focus to Asia-Pacific

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-15715446

US President Barack Obama has said that the Asia-Pacific region will play a key role in defining the world's future.
I wanted to create a thread for monitoring U.S. and Asia-Pacific related developments and related analysis articles on those developments.

I think Asia-Pacific developments will keep on catching media attention for coming many decades after we have gone through a decade of terrorism and M.E. related news.
 

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  • #2
apeiron
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I think Asia-Pacific developments will keep on catching media attention for coming many decades after we have gone through a decade of terrorism and M.E. related news.
Yes, the geopolitics is interesting as Obama made some strong statements. But it remains a game of strategic resources, so Middle East will be in the news for a long time to come.

Note that China's so-called "string of pearls" strategy of base-building has a strong Indian Ocean focus - sitting astride the sea lanes through which the oil flows (as well as surrounding India).

Gwadar lies near the Strait of Hormuz, along sea lanes bound to and from the Persian Gulf. More noteworthy, China bankrolled the project, putting up $200 million—or some 80 percent—of the initial funding. The harbour’s strategic site, coupled with the identity of its external funder, has fanned speculation that China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, will someday convert Gwadar into a forward naval station in the Indian Ocean—paving the way for a standing PLAN Indian Ocean squadron.

http://the-diplomat.com/2011/05/31/how-to-track-china%E2%80%99s-naval-dreams/ [Broken]
But then not all are convinced that China is playing that bases game like the US...

The ports are, as China contends, conventional shipping facilities to connect landlocked Chinese
provinces with trade routes. Transforming the commercial ports into military bases would not only require extensive fortification but also convincing host countries to upend a geopolitical strategy balancing interests of China, the US and India. The ports have long-term strategic value, but Townshend concludes that it’s in the interest of all, including China, to minimize conflicts in the Indian Ocean and keep trade routes open.

http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/unraveling-chinas-string-pearls
But anyway, the game is about control over strategic resources. Oil and the Middle East will be a critical one for the next 50 years - more critical than before in that, for conventional oil at least, the ME will be the last with an export surplus.

So what else around the Pacific is actually worth a geopolitical arm-wrestle? Certainly the minerals, uranium and coal of Australia. Perhaps the spoils available in Antarctica. Perhaps food production fairly shortly.

There are fears about a muslim and highly populated Indonesia of course.

So at present, you have a strong US-India alliance being constructed. Then the smaller bits of the puzzle like Australia being fitted into the picture.

But it is hard to imagine actual flashpoints of the scale of the "threat to oil" which keeps the ME in the news. Or the kind of clash of ideologies that made for the Vietnam war for instance.

Was Obama doing anything more than confirming Australia's role in policing its corner of Oceania? A relatively quiet zone.

As for wider Asian/Pacific, that is developing a stronger regional identity based on economic self-interest. The US wants to stay included in this club, and Australia is perhaps its most reliable entry door to it.

For example, this little free trade negotiation going on now...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Strategic_Economic_Partnership

However, the Indian Ocean or the East China Sea, you can see Sino-US conflict breaking out there in time.
 
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  • #3
apeiron
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This is a key article from Hillary Clinton spelling out the US view...

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/10/11/americas_pacific_century

With Iraq and Afghanistan still in transition and serious economic challenges in our own country, there are those on the American political scene who are calling for us not to reposition, but to come home. They seek a downsizing of our foreign engagement in favor of our pressing domestic priorities. These impulses are understandable, but they are misguided. Those who say that we can no longer afford to engage with the world have it exactly backward -- we cannot afford not to. From opening new markets for American businesses to curbing nuclear proliferation to keeping the sea lanes free for commerce and navigation, our work abroad holds the key to our prosperity and security at home. For more than six decades, the United States has resisted the gravitational pull of these "come home" debates and the implicit zero-sum logic of these arguments. We must do so again.
Our treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand are the fulcrum for our strategic turn to the Asia-Pacific.
President Obama told the Indian parliament last year that the relationship between India and America will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century, rooted in common values and interests. There are still obstacles to overcome and questions to answer on both sides, but the United States is making a strategic bet on India's future -- that India's greater role on the world stage will enhance peace and security, that opening India's markets to the world will pave the way to greater regional and global prosperity, that Indian advances in science and technology will improve lives and advance human knowledge everywhere, and that India's vibrant, pluralistic democracy will produce measurable results and improvements for its citizens and inspire others to follow a similar path of openness and tolerance. So the Obama administration has expanded our bilateral partnership; actively supported India's Look East efforts, including through a new trilateral dialogue with India and Japan; and outlined a new vision for a more economically integrated and politically stable South and Central Asia, with India as a linchpin.
We are also forging a new partnership with Indonesia, the world's third-largest democracy, the world's most populous Muslim nation, and a member of the G-20. We have resumed joint training of Indonesian special forces units and signed a number of agreements on health, educational exchanges, science and technology, and defense. And this year, at the invitation of the Indonesian government, President Obama will inaugurate American participation in the East Asia Summit.
How we translate the growing connection between the Indian and Pacific oceans into an operational concept is a question that we need to answer if we are to adapt to new challenges in the region. Against this backdrop, a more broadly distributed military presence across the region will provide vital advantages
 
  • #4
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"External forces should not use any excuse to interfere," he said in a speech carried by state news agency Xinhua.

"The dispute on the South China Sea is a matter that been going on for years. It should be resolved by the relevant sovereign states through friendly consultation and discussion directly."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-15790287
I didn't find China's reply strong enough.


While, Hilary visited Burma today, the first secretary of state to visit in 50 years:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-15787052
She is on her 2 weeks Asia trip.

Obama and Hilary Asian visits all seems bit too sudden and out of blue to me.
 
  • #5
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Yes, the geopolitics is interesting as Obama made some strong statements. But it remains a game of strategic resources, so Middle East will be in the news for a long time to come.
M.E. is very different place now that many of the disgruntled youths have taken their angers on their leaders and living with their fresh freedoms and uncertainties. Others have lost their charismatic leaders who made sensationalistic stories in the past decade. They might keep themselves occupied with internal M.E. matters than messing with external powers for a while.

I am also not sure what's the current U.S. image in the new M.E. but it's worthwhile to have a separate thread to keep track of those developments once anything interesting appears.
 
  • #6
Bobbywhy
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Here is an article about a dispute Korea has with China over oil and mineral deposits.

“In January, the South Korean Navy began construction on a $970 million base in Gangjeong. [Jeju Island] Once completed in 2014, it will be home to 20 warships, including submarines, that the navy says will protect shipping lanes for South Korea’s export-driven economy, which is dependent on imported oil. It will also enable South Korea to respond quickly to a brewing territorial dispute with China over Socotra Rock, a submerged reef south of Jeju that the Koreans call Ieodo. Both sides believe it is surrounded by oil and mineral deposits.” See:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/19/world/asia/19base.html?pagewanted=all

Here is an article about the US Navy increasing its presence and projecting its power in Korea.

“Chinhae Navy Base
35°08'N 128°38'E
The Port of Chinhae is located in Chinhae Harbor on the southeast coast of the Republic of Korea. The port city has a population 130,000, located in the province of Kyong Sang Nam Do on the southeast coast of Korea. The Port is approximately 22 nautical miles west of the much larger and busier port of Pusan. In addition to being the site of the United States Navy command of Commander Fleet Activities (COMFLEACT), Chinhae was also the principal Naval Base of the Republic of Korea (ROK) fleet.” See:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/chinhae.htm

Here is a statement China made today concerning “external forces” [you may infer USA] interfering in maritime disputes.

“BBC News 2011-11-18: China has warned "external forces" not to get involved in its maritime disputes with neighbouring countries over the South China Sea. In comments apparently directed at the US, Premier Wen Jiabao said that the disputes should be resolved by "relevant sovereign states". “ See:

http://article.wn.com/view/2011/11/18/Wen_warns_US_on_South_China_Sea_dispute/

Here is an article where U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is beating the “peaceful resolution” drum while building up strategic military power in the entire western Pacific region.

“MANILA (Dow Jones)—[16 Nov 2011] U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday the United States wants to see a peaceful resolution of the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, urging claimants to refrain from resorting to intimidation to enforce claims in the area.

"We are strongly of the opinion that disputes that...exist primarily in the West Philippine Sea between the Philippines and China should be resolved peacefully," Clinton, who is visiting Manila, told a televised joint briefing with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.” See:

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20111115-720380.html [Broken]

In my opinion, these events coupled with the Secretary’s statements appear to mean the USA is becoming ready, able, and willing to fight China in support of our “allies”. I agree we should maintain this thread as this dangerous situation warrants our comments and attention.
 
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  • #8
378
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China finally responded adequately.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-16063607

China's navy should speed up its development and prepare for warfare, President Hu Jintao has said.

He told military personnel they should "make extended preparations for warfare".

China is locked in territorial disputes with several other nations in the South China Sea. Political tension is also growing with the US, which is seeking to boost its presence in the region.

Analysts say Mr Hu's comments are unusually blunt, and are likely to be aimed at the US and Beijing's rivals in the South China Sea.
 
  • #9
widereader
With the outsourcing of call centers to Asia-Pacific regions and other industries, America should be scared that they will literally lose their jobs. How can they compete with the cheap labor costs in these countries?
 

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