Mon, Aug 29, 2011 - Page 8 News List

China hegemony to face resistance

By Sushil Seth

China, of course, seeks to do something similar, but without the use of brute force, so far. However, it has the same intention of dominating the region to the exclusion of other powers.

This sort of bellicosity doesn’t square with China’s often-stated declaration that it is not a “hegemonic” power and does not aspire to be one — a claim uttered often in the past decade, but one heard much less recently.

Beijing thinks it has found a way around accusations of hegemonism. By referring to its regional claims as sovereignty issues, China’s territorial aspirations cease to be hegemonic in nature, as far as Beijing is concerned. This concept of territorial enlargement is very flexible and can be expanded as China gains power and its national interests expand to the far corners of the world.

China is developing a blue-water navy to enforce its writ — the recent test runs of its aircraft carrier is a forerunner of things to come.

A recent Pentagon report, titled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2011, paints a rather disturbing picture of future trends.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Michael Schiffer said the pace and scope of China’s military buildup is “potentially destabilizing,” not only because of its new weaponry, but also because of a lack of transparency.

The US and China’s neighbors are understandably worried, so they have developed a two-fold response.

First, some of them are developing closer ties to the US to counter the growing military might of China. Second, they are also beefing up their own military forces as a credible deterrence.

For instance, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are reinforcing their defenses by buying new weapons and equipment, as well as renewing their defense ties with the US.

Vietnam and the US are creating new strategic linkages to counter China. The Philippines is invoking its defense alliance with the US in the face of China’s intrusions into its territorial waters around the islands it claims in the South China Sea.

If China continues to claim sovereignty over contested islands and waterways, and aggressively pursues domination over its neighbors, the Asia-Pacific region will face turbulent times in the years ahead.

China, though, will face tough resistance to its new Monroe Doctrine — named after former US president James Monroe, who formulated a doctrine in 1823 that forbade European powers from further colonizing the Western Hemisphere — for the region.

First, the US is unlikely to let China turn the region into its exclusive enclave. At the same time, China’s neighbors will not willingly become part of its newly formulated Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.

China should know that because it fought against Japan when the Japanese sought to impose military domination on China and the region.

Sushil Seth is a commentator in Australia.

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