By Sarfraz Ahmed Rana.
Hot off the press, US-Indo defence pact (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement) LEMOA is an extension of the US-Indo nuclear civilian agreement to expedite “US Pivot to Asia” in order to contain distractedly ascending Chinese influence not in the region but worldwide. No matter, Republicans whether Democrats comes to the white House, policy to pursue “Asia Pivot” will remain immutable, perhaps it will further accelerate down the line which pioneered under Bush administration (Republican) and culminated under the Obama administration (Democrat) entitled upon India the unprecedented de jure status of “Close Strategic Friend”. US-Indo defense agreement stipulates to give easy access to each other’s military facilities following the principle of mutual consent to cap the Chinese Influence. India seemingly rebuffed the Nehru’s philosophy of Non-alignment being much ambitious to play a front role regional power in the Indo-Pacific Region under the allegiance of US. Hitherto, despite the serious prospect apprehensions, Beijing had maintained the equivocacy to raise any concern over Washington-New Delhi defence agreement, amidst Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said, “We have noted relevant reports. Hope that this cooperation between India and US would work to promote stability and development of region”. Yet at the same time, China tightly observing each move US made in the region and preparing to neutralise US impact on its foreign policy.
“China factor” becomes a persistent strategic threat to the greater US interests that necessitate Washington to revert worryingly to protect its interests employing modus operandi of speeding up to make comfortable multifaceted alliances as a robust bulwark to counter balance China. For instance, Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement TPPA possessed 12 nations which David pilling; called vividly in his article in 2013 for Financial Times that, “No one will say it out loud, but the unstated aim of the TPP is to deal to bar the second-largest economy,” Pilling further intensified his argument to underscore the main feature behind TPPA to create an influential and extremely powerful bloc which mends to alter Chinese unorthodox ways, he says “Anyone but China Club” ABC would not be so easy. Arguably the US tends to penalise Beijing to the extent where it submits its authority to the United States as the only superpower. It is certainly a much daunting for Rising China, regardless of large military differences to accept the relative declining US posture as the sole super power in the largely complex state of affairs, a time when China has the prerogative to be the focal point in world politics.
Earlier, US proactive Asia’s strategy formed a quadrilateral military bloc of four nations includes Australia, India, Japan and United states to minimise China’s strategic threat. All existing nations in the military bloc have also worked together in TPPA as a member state with one exception of India which perhaps join TPPA at any time soon to endorse US keen interest in India’s inclusion in the TPP. A few months ago India, Japan and US carried out joint naval exercises in the East China Sea ECS near the highly contested Senkaku Islands to rely on strong signals to People’s Libration Army and Navy PLAN. Meanwhile, US-Australia military cooperation seemingly mushrooming over the time, US increases its marines at the northern part of the country to make sure the Australian and US troops work together to effectively balance the rising dominance of China, despite the enormous bilateral trade volume between China and Australia, Yet mistrust exists between the two though Australia perceives Chinese dominance as a potential future threat to its regional interests in the Pacific.
Why does Beijing become a threat to the US interests in the region?
The recent wave of SINO-US escalating tensions discovered over the South China Sea which China considers its “Core Interest” and claims the historic maritime rights dates 2000 years back marked by a nine-dotted line which almost comprises the 90 percent of South China Sea. The verdict by the Permanent Court of Arbitration PCA ruling favored Filipinos against China which gives rise to the tension in Asia Pacific politics due to China’s “Null and Void” policy to the tribunal verdict.
Bill Hayton, an author of South China See highlights in his excerpt says,”South China is the first place where Chinese strategic goals come face to face with US”. US, however, have no physical claims to pursue yet has high stakes involved in the South China Sea. US feels threatened by Chinese uninterrupted expansion in SCS to make sure primarily, freedom of navigation and overflight in the disputed waters due to its high trade volume shipping through South China Sea, secondly, to protect the interests of its partner countries who seeks overlapping claims vis-à-vis SCS and at above to preserve the status of super power to coerce and pressurize China diplomatically through different alliances over the South China Sea. The strategic significance equally as important to Washington as to India, Australia, Japan, Vietnam and some others, yet none of them has the capability to keep China honest over the South China Sea except the United States due to its large military presence in the Asia-Pacific. China, in contrast, may lose its face diplomatically in the result of verdict but had achieved several short-term victories in the South China Sea establishing Air Defense Identification Zones ADIZ, aircraft hangars, lighthouses, area denial weapons and importantly the recent resurrection of China-Russia military cooperation and their joint patrolling in western pacific is not a good a sign for the United States and its partner countries at all.
Notwithstanding, despite the American robust efforts to neutralise “China factor” remains futile in the regional politics that reflects into ASEAN discreet stance over the South China Sea, where Chinese influence has not let ASEAN members countries to release a joint statement against China over the tribunal verdict. Many believe China seems to be in isolation in Asia-Pacific but on the other side, none of the East Asian nation willing to jeopardise its relations with China. Undoubtedly, a geographic proximity, burgeoning Chinese economy and largely increased defense budget put Beijing at comparative leverage to establish its primacy in the region, For US, it may require more alliances, increase the number of fleets, regeneration of perception in ASEAN and to ratify TPP agreement indefinite future to keep the pressure up on China that of course, sounds daunting task for US to revise the Status quo in the prevailing complex situations in the Asia-Pacific, any US forceful effort to assert as super power will cost catastrophic consequences.
The writer is the columnist and International Research Scholar.
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