Showing posts with label South East Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South East Asia. Show all posts

26 September 2021

Helping the Taliban but not Myanmar detrimental to Western interests

Brahma Chellaney

No sooner had the Taliban completed their lightning-quick conquest of Afghanistan than U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Washington was ready to work on "counterterrorism" with the same marauding Islamist force that has so much American blood on its hands.

No less shocking was the statement from the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, that it is "possible" the U.S. will coordinate with the Taliban to conduct counterterrorism strikes on other Islamist terrorists.

British Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Nick Carter called the Taliban -- responsible for the killing of more than 2,000 American soldiers and hundreds of allied troops -- "country boys" that "live by a code of honor and a standard." Carter's claim that the Taliban have "changed" and "want an Afghanistan that is inclusive for all" has already been contradicted.

The Taliban's all-male regime of hard-core extremists is a who's who of international terrorism, with 17 of the 33 cabinet ministers on the United Nations' terrorism-related sanctions list, and four former Guantanamo Bay inmates and several others who remain U.S.-designated global terrorists. The regime is headed by Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a U.N.-listed terrorist and architect of the 2001 destruction of the monumental Buddhas of Bamiyan.

17 September 2021

RCEP Leverages Chinese Backdoor Entry Into India: Vietnam Is The Potential Gateway – Analysis

Subrata Majumder

Notwithstanding that India quit RCEP, paranoia looms large on China’s backdoor entry in India. After a gap of two years, China reemerged the biggest trading partner of India in 2020-21, outsmarting USA. The surge in imports from China continued to be the trigger for Chinese behemoth in the global trade of India.

Chinese fear for damaging domestic industry, supported by the BJP’s political outfits, viz, RSS and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, forced India to refrain from joining RCEP. Further, the past records of FTAs, which portrayed FTA members reaping more benefits than India, resisted India to be member of mega multilateral FTA, RCEP. The main fear which crippled Indian policy makers to distance from RCEP was China’s predatory in Indian market. Had India joined RCEP, it would have been dumping ground for China, particularly after it lost a big market in USA due to Trumponomics. In terms of global imports by members of RCEP, India would have been the fourth biggest market in RCEP, after China, Japan and S. Korea, had India joined.

16 September 2021

What the U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan Means for Taiwan

Oriana Skylar Mastro

There are many reasons to fear an impending Chinese attack on Taiwan: Intensified Chinese aerial activity. High-profile Pentagon warnings. Rapid Chinese military modernization. President Xi Jinping’s escalating rhetoric. But despite what recent feverish discussion in foreign policy and military circles is suggesting, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan isn’t one of them.

Some critics of President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan argue the move will embolden Beijing because it telegraphs weakness — an unwillingness to stick it out and win wars that China will factor in when deciding whether to attack Taiwan, which it considers to be part of its territory.

The reality is, though, that the U.S. departure from Afghanistan will more likely give pause to Chinese war planners — not push them to use force against Taiwan.

U.S. and China Reach Deal to Block Myanmar’s Junta From U.N.

Colum Lynch, Robbie Gramer, and Jack Detsch

The United States and China have brokered an agreement that will effectively block Myanmar’s military rulers from addressing the United Nations’ General Assembly next week, according to diplomats, dealing a blow to the junta’s quest for international legitimacy after it took power in a coup earlier this year.

But the pact—which was hammered out during weeks of behind-the-scenes diplomatic negotiations—will require Myanmar’s defiant, still-serving U.N. ambassador who represented the previous government to hold his tongue during the high-level event, refraining from the tough rhetoric he deployed last year in denouncing the military’s power grab. It will also delay any effort by Myanmar’s rulers to press for U.N. membership to recognize it as the legitimate government in Myanmar, at least until November.

The arrangement, which was described by multiple diplomatic sources and representatives of advocacy groups familiar with internal deliberations, has been informally endorsed by representatives of the European Union, members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Russia. It comes as the U.N. General Assembly plans to announce the appointment of a nine-member panel on U.N. credentials on Tuesday, which will be charged with determining the rightful U.N. representative of Myanmar. The committee will be chaired by weden and include representatives from Bhutan, the Bahamas, Chile, China, Russia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and the United States.

13 September 2021

Welcoming Committee—Every Time an American Flattop Enters The South China Sea, Chinese Bombers Launch

David Axe

The Chinese air force is very clear how it would respond if, during wartime, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier were to sail into the South China Sea—waters that Beijing increasingly claims as its own, in violation of longstanding international law.

In a word, bombers. Every time an American flattop has sailed into the South China Sea in recent months, a powerful formation of Chinese warplanes—always including H-6 bombers—has launched the very same day.

Twitter user @duandang, a popular purveyor of so-called “open-source intelligence,” highlighted the trend.

Duan Dang’s shorthand tells a story. On or right before Jan. 23, the Nimitz-class nuclear supercarrier USS Theodore Roosevelt sailed with her escorts—a cruiser and two destroyers—into the South China Sea via the Luzon Strait.

8 September 2021

Forget ‘Asia-Pacific’, it’s the Indo-Pacific we live in now. Where is that, exactly?

Anthony Galloway

Mermaids and monsters ply the seas in a colourful map belonging to former diplomat Rory Medcalf. The map was created by Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius in 1571, just decades after the globe had been first circumnavigated, and yet it is strikingly modern, says Medcalf, “monsters and mermaids aside”.

The map frames a section of the world: the Persian Gulf is at left, a sprawling India and China are in the centre and North America is at top right. Australia is a little mauve island at the bottom, labelled “Beach”.

Quaint it may seem but, in some respects at least, the map shows what we know today as the Indo-Pacific.

Indo-Pacific, a term once used mostly by marine biologists and bio-geographers, has become common parlance among diplomats, bureaucrats and politicians, finding particularly free and full expression at events such as G7 meetings. In Cornwall in June, talk of the Indo-Pacific was there at every turn. “A free and open Indo-Pacific is essential to each of our futures,” said US President Joe Biden. “The Indo-Pacific is the epicentre of strategic competition,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “Nowhere,” said Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, “is change happening more rapidly than in our region, in the Indo-Pacific.”

How Taliban's Win Might Influence Radical Muslims in Southeast Asia

Ralph Jennings

ALAMEDA, CALIFORNIA - The Taliban victory in Afghanistan could inspire radical Muslim groups in Southeast Asia to take up arms once more against their own governments, analysts say, and officials are on alert for potential violence.

Scholars say Muslim rebel fronts, such as the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf, a violent rebel organization known for kidnapping tourists, and the Indonesian militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, a suspected plotter of the deadly Bali bombings of 2002, will feel empowered by the August 15 ascent of the Taliban to carry out localized attacks such as bombings.

"Taliban or no Taliban, we have always considered local extremism as a big concern," Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told the Philippine News Agency on August 27. He noted agreements with Indonesia and Malaysia to share information and protect their sea borders.

7 September 2021

US, China dueling for power on the Mekong


When China announced in early August a new US$6 million for new development projects in Myanmar, the sum was trifling in Beijing’s wider $1 trillion global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China’s Foreign Ministry said the funds will be used for animal vaccine projects, agricultural development, science, disaster prevention and, surprisingly given the absence of foreign visitors amid a raging Covid-19 outbreak and political crisis, tourism.

But while the funds are a rounding error in the financial context of the two sides’ wider relationship, replete with multi-billion dollar plans for rail, road and port development, they represent a potential game-changer for Mekong nations including Myanmar.

The funds will be earmarked for projects under the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (LMC) framework, China’s rival answer to the Western-initiated and funded Mekong River Commission (MRC).

2 September 2021

China’s Neighbors Hope Afghanistan Pullout Means Pivot to Indo-Pacific

Hiroyuki Akita 

The catastrophic turmoil in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. troops has raised serious concerns in East Asian capitals. The scenes of desperate Afghans trying to get a spot on a U.S. military aircraft departing Kabul have left a deep, indelible image of declining U.S. leadership.

However, Asian countries do not see this week’s turmoil as an event that marks a major shift in U.S. foreign policy. It was the Obama administration that decided on the withdrawal as part of a broader pullback from the greater Middle East, the Trump administration negotiated with the Taliban to set conditions, and the Biden administration only implemented what everyone already knew to be U.S. policy, even if the timing and method of withdrawal were far from ideal.

Now, Asian countries are watching closely to see whether and how the end of military involvement in Afghanistan will affect U.S. President Joe Biden’s approach to the Indo-Pacific region. Governments from Tokyo to Taipei don’t believe that the turmoil in Afghanistan has negative repercussions for the Indo-Pacific, not least because of their region’s geostrategic importance. On the contrary, insofar as the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan allows Washington to engage more deeply in the Indo-Pacific, they even welcome the pullout.

So far, China’s regional neighbors have applauded Biden’s diplomacy—not because he is doing anything fundamentally new but because he is continuing the Trump administration’s policies in the Indo-Pacific, just as he did in Afghanistan. Biden, like his predecessor, has defined China as a strategic competitor and emphasized his determination to meet the challenge posed by Beijing.

How the U.S. Learned to Stop Worrying About the Pacific and Love the ‘Indo-Pacific’

Jack Detsch 

In early 2017, U.S. and Japanese strategists were poring over maps on the top floor of the U.S. State Department. Satoshi Suzuki, a Japanese official, and Brian Hook, his U.S. counterpart, zoomed in on almost every touch point in Asia: the honeymoon between then-newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump and then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the emergence of India, and a potential flare-up on the Korean Peninsula. And then Suzuki widened the lens.

The Japanese side presented a series of maps, labeled “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.” Suzuki told Hook that Tokyo wanted to radically redraw the geography of the region, from the north-south orientation of the World War II era focused on the first and second island chains of the western Pacific Ocean to a two-ocean strategy that envisioned Japanese policy in Asia stretching to India and even as far as the Persian Gulf.

“It wasn’t the old and more narrow Asia-Pacific. It was the broader Indo-Pacific, and it recognized the significance of India in particular,” said a former senior Trump administration official. “It was a sense that, you know, we weren’t going to get what we wanted by asking Beijing nicely.”

1 September 2021

Japan, Taiwan Lawmakers Discuss China Threat

Shannon Tiezzi

Japan-Taiwan relations took a big step forward on Friday, with virtual talks between their ruling parties. Both sides emphasized the convergence between their governments on the perceived threat from China – and reaffirmed their desire to increase cooperation to counter that threat.

The discussions, which lasted roughly 90 minutes, were billed as the party-to-party equivalent of “2+2” meetings, which involve the foreign and defense ministers of two countries. As Japan and Taiwan don’t have formal diplomatic ties, a meeting at the government-to-government level is not feasible. Instead, the talks on August 27 brought together foreign affairs and defense officials from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

A DPP spokesperson, Hsieh Pei-fen, had previously said that the DPP has been promoting party-to-party diplomacy, which is one of the avenues available for Taiwan to interact with foreign counterparts in lieu of formal diplomatic relations.

30 August 2021

Three Aircraft Carriers. Dozens Of Stealth Fighters. A Powerful Allied Battle Group Has Gathered Near China

David Axe 

Three aircraft carriers embarking two different models of F-35 stealth fighter have assembled in the waters around Okinawa.

The three-carrier group, with two American flattops and one British one, is among the most powerful naval formations to appear anywhere in many years
And it’s not hard to understand the timing and location. The Chinese navy in recent weeks has been rehearsing an invasion of Taiwan. The three carriers are a warning—that an attack on the island democracy could have profound consequences.

The three flattops converged from separate directions. HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s new conventionally-fueled carrier, along with her British, American and Dutch escorts for several weeks now has been crisscrossing the Western Pacific
The 919-foot carrier with two squadrons of F-35B jump jets aboard—one from the Royal Air Force and another from the U.S. Marine Corps—departed the United Kingdom for her maiden cruise back in May, sailed through the Mediterranean and across the Indian Ocean to reach the Pacific via the Singapore Strait.

25 August 2021

Hostile Harbors: Taiwan’s Ports and PLA Invasion Plans

Ian Easton

The scale of an all-out Taiwan (Republic of China, ROC) invasion by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) military—the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)—defies human comprehension and would likely eclipse any historical comparison. In this important contribution to the field, Senior Director Ian Easton analyzes Chinese military studies frameworks and internal PLA documents to answer pressing questions that will help Taiwan and the United States both understand and better plan for potential crisis scenarios. He highlights the centrality of ROC port facilities—and Taiwan’s ability to defend them—in the PLA’s potential invasion plans for Taiwan, illustrating likely operational strategies explored by PLA leadership. In addition to postulating ports likely targeted in a PLA invasion, he provides recommendations that the Taiwanese government could undertake to ensure its port infrastructure security, as well as recommendations for the United States on how to be a supportive partner to Taiwan in that effort.

China and the Taliban: What to Watch

Bonnie Girard

Over the past 180 years, Afghan fighters have prevailed over the British, Soviet, and now American forces that have challenged them within their own mountainous, desert-ridden borders. Indeed, the annihilation of nearly 16,000 British soldiers, civilians, and families in 1842 as they fled Kabul remains one of the most humiliating defeats in British military history, second only to the fall of Singapore in World War II. The Soviet Union left in ignominy in 1989, although not in disarray. And the Americans are now leaving under the full weight of both humiliation and chaos.

This turn of events puts a new spin on potential changes for the relationship between China and Afghanistan. The two share a (short) border, and China has attempted to make investments in Afghanistan, which have thus far gone badly. But with the departure of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, the two neighbors may recalibrate their positions vis-à-vis one another, based on mutual interests and, of course, money. Chinese concerns that a Taliban-led Afghanistan may pose new security threats to China, particularly the prospect of jihad in support of Muslim Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region, would seem to be mitigated by Afghanistan’s increased need for Chinese investment, technology, and support services, if they can get it.

23 August 2021

Bangladesh Remains Main Source of Infiltrations Into India

Rajeev Bhattacharya

Bangladesh continues to be the main source of infiltrators into India, according to official Indian data.

India’s Minister of State for Defense Ajay Bhatt told parliament recently that there were 441 infiltration attempts made along the India-Bangladesh border in the first six months of 2021. He said that 740 infiltrators from Bangladesh were apprehended and one was killed by the security forces.

Infiltration attempts from other neighboring countries into India were far lower. While there was no infiltration attempt along the disputed India-China border, there were 33 instances along the border with Pakistan, which led to 11 persons being killed and 20 infiltrators being taken into custody, according to the report of the Security Forces and Ministry of Home Affairs.

A Taiwan Contingency and Japan's Counterstrike Debate

Scott W. Harold and Satoru Mori

Over the last dozen years, China has grown ever more assertive: committing genocide in Xinjiang, engaging in wolf warrior and hostage diplomacy, breaking its treaty commitments (PDF) to the United Kingdom and its word to the people of Hong Kong, blocking efforts to uncover the origins of COVID-19, and threatening many of its neighbors.

No country is more directly exposed to these threats than Taiwan. As then–U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Commander Adm. Phil Davidson testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, the threat to Taiwan could come “in the next six years (PDF);” two weeks later, his successor, Adm. John Aquilino, testified that “this problem is much closer to us than most think (PDF).”

Japan's Vice Minister of Defense Nakayama Yasuhide has warned the world to “wake up” to the threat China poses to Taiwan, while Minister of Defense Kishi Nobuo has stated unambiguously that “the peace and stability of Taiwan are directly connected to Japan.”

21 August 2021

Roundtable : Strategic Futures for the Indian Ocean

Arzan Tarapore, David Brewster

In April 1989 a Time magazine cover story declared that India was “determinedly transforming itself into a regional superpower.” The trends were compelling: India was strenuously building its military, it was already the world’s largest weapons importer, and it was on the cusp of building nuclear weapons. Its military had recently seized control of the Siachen glacier, muscled its way into Sri Lanka, and decisively intervened in Maldives. But New Delhi’s strategic intentions were unclear. Some countries around the Indian Ocean were looking upon this newly brawny India with a degree of unease. “What,” the article asked, “does India intend to do with all that power?”1 Australia was one of those uneasy countries. Even if bilateral relations were cordial, there was significant concern that India’s rapidly growing military power and “disconcerting predisposition to use force” could destabilize the Indian Ocean region.2

The world changed quickly. The end of the Cold War, India’s economic opening, and the emergence of new regional threats—especially Chinese power—clarified not only New Delhi’s strategic preferences but also regional states’ views of the country. The United States, followed in quick order by allies like Australia, brushed aside any lingering qualms and embraced India as a favored strategic partner. India would be particularly important in securing the Indian Ocean, a thoroughfare of globally critical sea lanes. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking on the shores of the Indian Ocean at Chennai in 2011, proclaimed that India was, “with us, a

20 August 2021

Afghan abandonment a lesson for Taiwan’s DPP: Global Times editorial

The US troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan has led to the rapid demise of the Kabul government. The world has witnessed how the US evacuated its diplomats by helicopter while Taliban soldiers crowded into the presidential palace in Kabul. This has dealt a heavy blow to the credibility and reliability of the US.

Many people cannot help but recall how the Vietnam War ended in 1975: The US abandoned its allies in South Vietnam; Saigon was taken over; then the US evacuated almost all its citizens in Saigon. And in 2019, US troops withdrew from northern Syria abruptly and abandoned their allies, the Kurds. Some historians also point out that abandoning allies to protect US interests is an inherent flaw that has been deeply rooted in the US since the founding of the country. During the American War of Independence, the US humbly begged the king of France, Louis XVI, to ally with it. After the war, it quickly made peace with Britain unilaterally and concluded a peace treaty with Britain that was detrimental to France's interests. This put Louis XVI's regime in a difficult position, giving cause for the French Revolution.

19 August 2021

Laos-China Railway on Track for December Opening: Official

Sebastian Strangio

A railway embankment in the countryside outside Vientiane, Laos, on November 12, 2018.Credit: Sebastian Strangio

The multibillion-dollar Laos-China railway is set to begin operations by the end of the year as scheduled, a Lao official said last week, completing the first link of a long-envisioned rail line connecting southwest China with Singapore.

The announcement was made by Minister of Planning and Investment Sonexay Siphandone on August 11 during a meeting of 10th Laos-China Railway Project Construction Committee, according to Pasaxon, the newspaper of the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.

Sonexay said that as of July 25, construction of the railway, which runs from the town of Boten on Laos’s border with China to the capital Vientiane, was 93.82 percent complete. “The Laos-China Railway will be completed in November, and will be open and ready for use by Laos National Day on 2 December,” he said.

Malaysia’s Muhyiddin Finally Steps Down As Prime Minister

Alifah Zainuddin

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin stepped down on Monday after trying – and failing – to seek opposition backing to remain in power. While this brings an end to his beleaguered premiership, it adds even more chaos to the country’s politics as party leaders scramble to form the next government.

Muhyiddin will not leave office immediately. He will stay on as caretaker prime minister until his successor is selected. That person will then serve as premier until the next general election takes place within two years.

“I can take the easy route and sacrifice my principles to remain as prime minister. But that is not my choice. I will not compromise with kleptocrats or interfere with the freedom of the judiciary, just to stay in power,” Muhyiddin said in a televised address to the nation about an hour after he submitted his resignation. “I’ve tried to come up with ideas to save this administration. But they didn’t work, as some quarters would rather grab power than prioritize the lives of the people.”