US’s rising worries in the Asia-Pacific

April 23, 2014 US President Barack Obama’s current tour of some of the Asia-Pacific’s foremost states freshly underscores the region’s continuing importance for Washington. eassuring its allies in the region of US support and succour in times of crisis is apparently one of Obama’s primary aims in !isiting South "orea# $apan# the Philippines and %alaysia# but indicating that the US could s&uare-up fully to 'hina’s rising economic and military presence in the region may be a closely connected reason for the (ide-ranging tour as (ell. )t could no( be said (ith some certainty that the *Asia-Pacific Age’ is upon the (orld but (ith rising regional economic !ibrancy has come fresh security concerns for particularly the US and its allies in this ne( gro(th centre of the globe. +ot least of these apprehensions is ho( these po(ers could deal (ith the rising economic# political and military stature of 'hina in the AS,A+ and ,ast Asian theatres. -he Asia-Pacific region is rife (ith some perple.ing dilemmas for the po(ers concerned. -he region’s economic inter-dependence (ith 'hina (ould not permit these po(ers to enter into a collision course (ith the latter. /o(e!er# they could in no (ay submit to any percei!ed 'hinese hegemonic dominance either. -hese issues come into focus in the territorial s&uabbles many of these South ,ast Asian po(ers ha!e (ith 'hina currently. -he tensions are &uite marked in the case of $apan and South "orea# for instance.

On the other hand# the point is unlikely to be missed on 'hina that a degree of peaceful coe.istence (ith its neighbours is essential for its economic sustenance# although it cannot be argued that 'hina is o!er(helmingly dependent on them in this respect. Some commentators ha!e cited a 0 percent gro(th rate in these neighbours as the economic !ibrancy desired by 'hina and it ought to be clear that this gro(th pace cannot be achie!ed amid security tensions in the region. Accordingly# unruffled inter-state ties are likely to be desired by 'hina and its neighbours on pragmatic considerations. -he same goes for US-'hina relations. -he degree of economic inter-dependence bet(een the countries is &uite considerable although 'hina’s economic integration (ith its neighbours gi!es it a distinct edge o!er the US in some respects. 1or instance# it is estimated that in 2330# the contribution of B )'S# of (hich 'hina is a member# to global economic gro(th# outstripped that of the US for the first time# 43 percent to 23 percent. So# clearly# the US has reason to be (orried. )t is at a risk of losing some of its influence and control in the South ,ast Asian region in particular and this prompts it to bolster its ties (ith its allies in the region. )t is possible that the US (ould play on the security concerns of those states it sees as its allies to further entrench its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region (ithout rousing the animosity of 'hina. /o(e!er# the pro!erbial (riting is on the (all to the effect that in the current (orld order (here economics is increasingly dri!ing politics# Western po(er (ould be increasingly on the decline in the ne.t couple of decades or thereabouts. )t needs to be also considered that an ,astern economic bloc is taking shape# comprising of countries# such as# )ndia# 'hina and )ndonesia# (hose producti!ity (ould constitute one fifth of the (orld economy# 23 percent of (orld trade and possess 5 6.7 trillion in monetary reser!es. Accordingly# although military strength (ould pro!e important in determining the po(er of states# it is national economic !ibrancy (hich (ould emerge as the more crucial factor in their ability to (ield global influence# in the final analysis. )n fact# economics and not politics is pro!ing to be so crucial that e!en the *classical’ norms of inter-state conduct# such as the in!iolability of state boundaries# could be undermined by the ma8or po(ers (ith impunity. -his has occurred in Armenia# but the West seems to be impotent in the face of this breach of )nternational 9a(. -he farthest the West could go in this issue is to slap sanctions of numerous kinds on ussia# but (e are yet to (itness any puniti!e military action against the latter. -he reason for this inner paralysis on the part of the West lies in economic and material considerations. -oo much is at stake# in an economic sense# for the parties concerned in this crisis# and they (ould prefer not to compromise these interests by unleashing tensions of a military kind on each other. ,conomic globali:ation# apparently# has generated an unbreachable interdependence among states. 'onsidering the foregoing# the West (ould do better to ac&uire a measure of economic prosperity and independence# if it is to counter-balance the economic !ibrancy and producti!ity of the ,ast. -his (ould enable it to recapture some of its po(er and influence of the past. A

military capability minus economic strength (ould not pro!e !ery effecti!e in current times# (here *markets’ are pri:ed abo!e almost all else. +e!ertheless# military po(er cannot be sustained by states (ithout si:eable economic might. -he So!iet Union learned this the !ery hard (ay in the late eighties. -he course to be follo(ed by the de!eloping (orld or the one-time -hird World in this order of things is all too clear. -hey need to integrate their economies !ery closely (ith the best of those in the Asia-pacific region. -his (ould enable them to achie!e a degree of economic !ibrancy and thereby ac&uire some political independence. /o(e!er# the de!eloping countries (ould also need to ensure that they bring about (ithin their boundaries e&uitable economic gro(th. -his (ould help in narro(ing the gap bet(een their !ampirical political elites and the masses. ight no(# it is clear that the gro(th path being tra!ersed by the de!eloping (orld is only benefiting the po(erful in their midst. -his is a recipe for national destruction. -he West (ould do better in this situation to help the U+ and like international organi:ations in their trying task of bringing about true de!elopment in the -hird World. ,conomic betterment in the de!eloping (orld (ould enable the po(erful states of the globe to enter into fruitful economic ties (ith these poorer countries and thereby generate ad!ancement (hich (ould benefit all. -he same goes for US-'hina relations. -he degree of economic inter-dependence bet(een the countries is &uite considerable although 'hina’s economic integration (ith its neighbours gi!es it a distinct edge o!er the US in some respects. 1or instance# it is estimated that in 2330# the contribution of B )'S# of (hich 'hina is a member# to global economic gro(th# outstripped that of the US for the first time# 43 percent to 23 percent. pic U+)-,; S-A-,S# Oso < US President Barack Obama deli!ers remarks at the firehouse in Oso# Washington# April 22# 236=# after touring the de!astation left by a recent landslide. -he death toll from the de!astating landslide in the (estern US state of Washington rose to =6 (ith the disco!ery of t(o more bodies on April 26# 236=# officials said. ;o:ens of d(ellings in the rural to(n >3 miles ?@7 kilometersA from Seattle (ere (iped out in the landslide# (hich also destroyed part of a high(ay. AFP

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