Commentary of an Academic
(Copyright @ 2010 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).
by Chester B. Cabalza
Two longest geographical centers in Asia survived by the Indus (Indian) and Sinitic (Chinese) civilizations are now re-emerging in the 21st century, reversing the tide and centrifugal force in trade and commerce, power and wealth, and leveling off the playing field in a fast globalizing world (Cabalza, 2010).
I steadfastly deem that the “Asian century” has arrived; with my thought that Asia’s future role in the world is brighter. Thus, now is the time we teach our children about the greatness of this vast continent.
In fact, when the world was recovering from the devastation of the recent global economic crisis in 2008, Agence France-Presse (AFP) noted that, explosive growth in China and India, coupled with Japan's clout as the world's No. 2 economy, has long been expected to shift economic power from the United States to Asia as this century progresses. However in 2010, China has now replaced Japan as the second largest economy in the world, and only behind the still "sick man" of the world, the United States.
China, in particular, is seen as the leader of the developing world that has largely weathered and resuscitated the global economy from the recent economic crisis that had gripped it. Albeit, western doomsayers poked at Asians that we could not recover from the mess of the fiscal crisis, still we reversed the tide. While western powers were reeling from that depression, Asian economies only suffered some minor bruises and jumpstarted the global economy to be vibrant again.
The Re-emergence of Two Asian Giants
Chindia is the portmanteau word that refers to China and India together in general. They are the “new Asian drivers of global change" becoming global players that can forcefully alter the relationship between industrialized and developing countries. The rise of China and India as both economic and political actors is having, and will have, significant and far-reaching impacts, over the next decade.
As a Chinese poet had written: “All people have their day, and the new generation will invariably succeed the old.”
China is the world’s oldest continuous civilization but its official policy on peaceful rise must be inferential. However, too few detailed case studies exist of specific interactive situations involving the People’ Republic of China (PRC) to lay foundation for systematic generalization, Macridis observed (1998), until lately when it opened up to the world.
While India is carving a niche and prominence in the dotcom era, most countries in the world today are looking up to Indian geniuses whose traditional mathematical and scientific thinking had been legendary to launch its lucrative and sophisticated business services in information technology, information technology enabled services, and business process outsourcing. In 2009 alone, seven Indian firms were listed among the top 15 technology outsourcing companies in the world.
China has shown sustained growth for two decades and has good prospects for sustained growth over the next decade, claimed by Rodrik and Subramanian (2004) and the Deutsche Bank Research (2005). Furthermore, by 2020, both Asian giants will likely to become two of the world's largest economies.
Thus far, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised in his speech during a multilateral engagement with the ten-member countries of Southeast Asia that, “I reiterate India’s commitment to work with ASEAN and other East Asian countries to make the 21st century truly an Asian century.”
Cleavages and Problems Facing China and India
During the visit of Prime Minister Hu Jintao of People’s Republic of China to India in 2006, he proclaimed in his speech that, “Let us work together to enhance China-India strategic and cooperative partnership, build a world of enduring peace and common prosperity and create a bright future for our two countries and peoples.”
Since China and India are vastly populated it comprised about 40 percent of humanity. Both countries boast economies that are becoming visible at present. They also represent two of the world's fastest-growing militaries, armed with nuclear weapons, and are expanding their spheres of influence across oceans, stated Ishaan Tharoor (2010).
In fact, China and India are building up their interests in conflict-prone and unstable states on their borders like Nepal and Burma which are important sources of natural resources. If something goes wrong in these countries, an emergence of proxy wars in Asia might erupt. Distrust and enmity between India and China will grow and so too security concerns in a number of arenas. It is an important scenario that strategic planners for these two emerging countries are looking at.
Arguably, pessimists see the future is likely to be shaped by “turbulent multilateralism.” One major question is, whether this multipolar world will emerge, shaped politically and based on cooperative attitudes, an all sides or characterized by sharp conflicts between the old and the new global players.
Security and Strategic Challenges Affecting Asian Countries
Historical experience demonstrates two things that multipolar international structures are often very unstable and tend to be conflictual, wrote Kupchan (2002); and the rise and decline of global political players (hegemonic powers or empires) are normally characterized by conflict, turbulence and even war, pronounced by Kennedy (1989) and Münkler (2005).
In Asia, decolonization replaced a world of empires and unequal political relations with one of the national states, sovereign equality, and at least the legal acceptance of all peoples and races as possessing equal human rights. In effect, decolonization completed the remaking of the global political system into European (Westphalian) form of sovereign territorial states that had begun with the revolutions in the Americas.
As an offshoot from the increasing strategic and economic powers of the two giant countries in the world’s largest continent, China and India are now playing as major actors in many bilateral and multilateral engagements in the Asia-Pacific region.
Nuclear Weapons and Uranium Enrichment Programs
One of the key issues that caused turbulence in China-India relations was the Indian nuclear explosion in 1998. Nevertheless, China has targeted India since 1970s, and currently has 66 nuclear missiles that can reach all of India’s major cities and military bases. Chinese feelings toward India soured temporarily after India’s 1998 nuclear testing, though China insists it was not the tests themselves that they perceived as a threat. However, China asserts that India is not a major security concern to China today. But Chinese analysts feel that China should handle the requirements posed by India on a similar platform as they would for other countries also looking for nuclear power.
There are evidences of Pyongyang’s highly enriched uranium (HEU) program and Tehran’s nuclear technology program. It fact, there were reports of traces of North Korea’s HEU on documents submitted to the United States (US) as part of its nuclear declaration. However, there has been no confirmation of the source of these traces. In April 2009, North Korea quit the talks and announced that it would reverse the disablement process called for under the Six-Party agreements and restart its Yongbyon nuclear facilities but some experts are pessimistic the talks can achieve anything beyond managing the North Korean threat.
On the other hand, Iran has increased risk of nuclear proliferation in the West Asia region and the possibility of military confrontation with Israel and its ally, the US. However, it undermines the authority of the US with its defiance of the order to halt its uranium enrichment activities. Imposition of threats and sanction has not, in any way, deter Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambition.
Status quo of China–Pakistan Relations
The last war fought between India and China was in 1962 and since then, both sides have been extremely cautious and suspicious of each other. There has been no resolution to the border issue over remote, heavily militarized territories in the Himalayas in spite of numerous rounds of negotiations and tensions that have flared recently. It is a kind of historic scar that impedes progress.
However, Rajeshwar (2008) deemed that China’s relations with India’s neighboring countries have always concerned India.
One consideration is the China-Pakistan relations, that is not recent. The intention of China’s policy is to befriend all its neighbors. However, India and Pakistan have acquired nuclear weapons capability, which extremely worries China that any escalation of conflicts over Kashmir could precipitate nuclear exchange with horrifying consequences. But Indian analysts see it the other way around when China behaves differently by building strategic vantage points to India’s neighbors. Hence, China founded several naval projects from Pakistan to Bangladesh to Sri Lanka to Maldives, seen as China’s quiet encirclement of India.
The United States Factor
The current rise of China and India means that two non-Western countries are becoming substantial actors in the global system. Charles Kupchan, a member of the US Council on Foreign Relations and an important policy advisor of the Clinton administration, may have asserted that “Globalization is Americanization”. For the development policies of the advanced nations, based on a consensus of Western nations, China and India henceforth pose big challenges.
India has been facing terrorism for quite some time and has acquired a lot of expertise from the US on this matter. However, the US has placed both China and India as key partners in achieving regional stability and harmony. It engages both nations now at a higher level. The relations between India and China are naturally bound to be affected by such rigorous engagement.
The Use of Soft Power Diplomacy in Divided Koreas
Ambassador Sung-oh Shin (1999) is disconcerted that in reality Korea is a divided country. Now that Germany and Vietnam are unified, Korea remains the sole nation divided as the victim of the Cold War. He confesses that [South] Koreans were indoctrinated through the bitter experience of the Korean War that the other Korea is the foremost enemy. At the same time, however, there remains a strong sense of brotherhood between South and North Koreans. Therefore, the dilemma of South Korea’s [defense] diplomacy has always been how to contain the dangerous North Korea without jeopardizing the prospect of eventual peaceful unification.
In its relation with North Korea, Ambassador Sung-oh Shin still deems that security-related agreements or understanding between two Koreas are quite rare. Yet, there exist a few of such understandings, which also contribute to the mitigation of tension on the Korean Peninsula. The Declaration of Nuclear-free Korean Peninsula is a case in point.
However in 2010, The two Koreas' temper and cold relations are upsetting the world, again. The military exercises done by South Korea near Yeonpyeong Island irritated the senses of North Korea which carried over conflicts back in 1999, 2002 and 2009.
Although, only this year, the South Korean delegation from the Korea National Defense University to the National Defense College of the Philippines, is praying for lasting peace with the fellow Korean brethren.
I still deem that the use of [South] Korea’s soft power diplomacy through the Korean Wave on how to confront strains and tensions between former enemies in Northeast Asia would solve political reconciliation with North Korea since the inception of the Sunshine Policy to contain North Korea’s Cold War-style confrontation. The success of Korean wave is emanating through cultural domains around Asia from China, Japan, and Southeast Asia, and also conquering the vastness of Hollywood and Europe.
But in reality, Asean and South Korea, Hernandez wrote (2007), are the weakest of the four players within the Asean plus Three process, including China and Japan. But given Korea’s status, Prasetyono opined (2007) that, as an economic power, its lack of political ambitions, and its situation between Japan and China, mediation from it would be more acceptable to other Asian countries.
Environmental Issues and Climate Change
There are a number of issues that concern Asian countries which, in a flat world, are becoming important. Natural resources such as water and energy needs, including nuclear energy, are vital in sustaining growth and development.
The developments of various forms of multilateral initiatives have been a major feature in every regional organization in the past decade. The current silent crisis that the entire human race has to deal with is how to adapt, mitigate, and reduce the impacts of climate change and global warming.
The climate is changing and the earth is warming up.
Despite worldwide efforts to address this transborder issue of climate change following the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which led to the creation of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the initiation of the Copenhagen Accord in 2009, this global anxiety must also be dealt locally, by every countries concerned, especially China and India, that have stronger voice and power to converge for multilateral approaches in combating climate change relying on its own resources and cooperation.
Ethnic Conflicts and Separatism
The issue on ethnic conflict and secessionism or separatism, together boil up the issue of creating “imagined” nation-states, based from the arguments of Benedict Anderson. It is an extension of colonialism in many Asian countries, in which in a “nation,” people resist foreign and outside powers from their own territory, thus, insinuating their own independence and sovereignty.
Lifting Thackrah’s definition of the term “nationalism” that is, “the sentiment founded on common cultural characteristics that unites a population, usually producing a desire for separatism and sometimes resort to terrorism.” Such perception definitely has bearing to what a ‘nation’ is. Apparently, religious affiliation, ethnic identity and territorial expansionism are root causes of conflicts in the region.
According to Ernest Renan’s entitled book “Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?” or “What is a Nation?”, he stated that a nation, being a spiritual principle, is not born out of commonality especially in ethnicity, language, and religion. To quote him, “a nation is a spiritual principle, the outcome of the profound complications of history; it is a spiritual family not a group determined by the shape of the earth.
I deem that things are not adequate for the creation of such spiritual principle, namely race, language, material interests, religious affinities, geography and military necessity.” The otherwise general peace and security being experienced by the Asian nations is punctuated by the threats or tensions arising from ethnic tensions, separatist insurgencies, and terrorism.
However, there are bright prospects to enhance security in the region: one is the increased cooperation and aggressive dialogue between and within concerned parties through negotiations to resolve issues. Second, several peace processes to end conflicts are moving forward to possible successful conclusion. Lastly, there must be a concerted international cooperation and efforts to fight secessionism in the continent.
Cyberterrorism and Cyberwar
Believe me, I for one have been addicted and enslaved by mushrooming cutting-edged technologies and the Internet. It is a fact that today, we are all functioning in a world fundamentally characterized by objects in motion. There is a tremendous mobility brought about by globalization where immense flood of capital, ideas, labor, profits and technology are rapidly moving across the four bounds of the earth.
The explosive growth of cyber cafés in the so-called new economy and wisdom market affirm the internet’s comfy uses and trendy functions that permit dissemination of any kind of data through images, music, speech, text and video. It surmounts distance and pays scant regard to territorial boundaries. But sad to say, with cheap accessibility to Internet, cyberterrorists can now gauge the opportunities to wave and secure publicity. Asian nationals have superior aptitude for technologies that offer them advanced prospects to shape and control the content of their websites and manipulate the images and texts of their foes.
Beyond all these perks for cyber attackers in the countenance of Internet’s viability to merge together comrades in brotherhood - be it ethnic, political and religious in nature; it has also created a new forum for worldwide information warfare and a novel force in transforming today’s geopolitics in a globalizing transborder universe.
Indeed, this ‘virtual global community’ has an appeal to younger generations who may have entrée and exposure to seditious information through the Internet, cable or satellite TV where images and texts are potent sources for propaganda and wiles to spread out terror. This gives them various options to post and spread prisms of terrorism and cyberwarfare.
Hence, the fluidity of cyberspace absorbed by the ‘virtual global community’ could succumb further tension and deepen international debate due to escalating schism and difference among conflicting groups. At the end, it would be graceful gain for a terrorist as he espouses the objectives of the group; especially if the group he wants to belong to suffers extreme profiling and marginalization against the ‘Others’.
The Importance of Asean Charter and Asean Regional Forum
The Asean Charter is succinctly captured in its preamble, the history, evolution and vision, and aspiration of Asean, its member-states, and its people. It shall confer a legal personality on Asean. Furthermore, it is expected that the Asean Charter will enhance the role and functions of the Asean Chair; provide for the establishment of an appropriate dispute settlement mechanism; promote Asean identity and symbols; and strengthen Asean’s external relations to enhance Asean centrality in the processes and for that Asean has initiated dialogues and cooperation.
However, the New regionalism strategy that cling to western form of neo-liberalism encompassing the idea of Hobbesian and Kantian cooperation today has played a major role especially in the age of globalization. Many theories have sprung in the discourse of alleviating the role of regionalism in economics and trade, security, environment, and socio-cultural issues and concerns.
For instance, the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) is built upon the structures of Asean. The reason why China engaged in multilateral forum like the ARF (its first involvement) is to shift its perception from a threat neighborhood to a friendly Big Brother after realizing the process of participating is not to isolate itself in the region. On the other hand, India has become a member of ARF in 1996. There has been the growing cooperation on security issues between India and Asean countries through dialogue and practical measures, as well as through the establishment of legal frameworks under the ARF.
In short, copying it from the ASEAN model and operationalized on the basis of “ASEAN Way”, ARF features in the forms of informal, wide consultative, consensus and incremental approach.