• Twinkle Joshi

Mayhem in Asia Pacific

The growth of the Asia-Pacific economies has been the talk of the town in the last few decades. The development is not only restricted to financial upliftment but rather a more holistic sense be it trade, industrialization, human capital, political influence, and other domains. Researchers have often shown confidence in this region by claiming that the 21st century belongs to the Asia- Pacific. Countries like India, China, Japan, Australia are leading the command. Alas, all this gloomy picture might turn out to be true only if there was more sense of corporation between the nations. The tension between the Asian Pacific countries continues throughout history. Although, the hope of some sense of strategic partnership seems very bleak now more than ever.

The bombardment of the Joint Liaison office situated at the border town of Kaesong was carried out by North Korea on 16th June. The office signified the vulnerable budding relationship among the Korean territory. South Korean office immediately released the statement after the destruction that, it "abandons the hopes of everyone who wanted the development of inter-Korean relations and peace settlement in the Korean Peninsula.” “The government makes it clear that all responsibility of this situation lies in the North." It is been claimed that the North took this action only because of the anti-regime propaganda spread by southerners at the border of North. Yet, it is interesting to trace this action to punish South Korea for not standing up against The United States and the United Nations. The sanctions against North Korea are crippling the economy putting enormous pressure on the regime.

On the other hand of the coin, South Korea is having a trade war with Japan which initiated in the year 2019. Additionally, South Korea claims that it should be compensated by Japan for the crimes that committed during their rule on The Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945. During June 2019, Japan barred the export of the most significant chemicals for the production of semiconductors. Subsequently, removing South Korea's name from their “white list” (list of countries for preferential treatment). South Korea didn’t back up their part, after reporting Japan to WTO, they removed Japan from their white list. Although, the trade margin is not reached to an extreme situation (From 2018-19, SK imports from JPY reduced by 12.13 %, JPY imports from SK by 28.67 %, as per IMF), but it is predicted that if this will go on for a prolonged time it could end up in disastrous consequences.

Japan along with The United States is taking the front row seat in taking the stand against China on the disputes of The South China Sea with The Philippians. While China faces one of the most important nations, it does not vary from picking up disputes in the neighbouring nations including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam. Only in the last week, China’s fighters plane entered Taiwan air defence thrice lasted being on 16th June. Attacked on various Vietnamese fishermen claiming the ownership of the South China Sea. Suppressing the protests in Hong Kong by planning to introduce a law against anyone demanding independence in the disguise of returning political freedom and stability.

China, not only trying to seek control on the military front but also the political front with the help of its “Debt Trap Policy.” According to this, China gives out cheaper loans to small and medium-sized countries to mainly fund their large infrastructure projects. These countries are unable to cope up with the payment schedule and fall on mercy of the China. China then takes concessions from them to forward their agendas. The countries are in debt include Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives. The example of concessions can be taking over the Hambantota port project of Sri Lanka to China for 99 years, introducing compulsory Mandarin in Nepalese Schools after China agreed to pay salaries of teachers. Understanding China’s tactics, Afghanistan is resisting loans from China.

India, have always faced problems with its neighbour to the west, Pakistan on various grounds. The most important being the disputes on the land of Kashmir. The latest problem for India is when its neighbouring country (which shares free mobility on the borders) and one of its strongest allies, Nepal showcased hostile behaviour towards it. The border disputes triggered when India built an 80 km long road to China passing through Lipulekh Pass which Nepal claimed its own. Mistakes were made on both sides, India delaying the negotiations talks and Nepal taking the harsh step of amending the maps quickly influenced by the communist party leader, KP Sharma Oli. These actions might put decades of friendship between India- Nepal in jeopardy starting chaos. It is often speculated that KP Sharma Oli did these under the influence of China and to further his political career. China’s soldiers directly clashed with India on East Ladakh killing 20 Indian soldiers.

It would not be a overstep to say that China is taking control of the neighbouring countries of India. The possible reason can be to contain its power and strike out the competition to achieve regional hegemony. Taking the example of One Belt One Road initiative, the policy entails that India has to agree that Kashmir- Controlled Pakistan is indeed Pakistan as the road line will cross through it. Hence, this initiative will force India to confront many controversial issues taking away diplomatic sensibility. Another initiative, “Strings of Pearls” directly aimed to encircle India and limit its authority in the Indian Ocean Region. India too is prepared to tackle the threat by creating unions with Australia, the United States, and Japan and introducing “Necklace of Diamonds.”

Source: Jagran Josh

Source: The True Picture

All in all, the Asia Pacific region is in shackles of tensions, conflicts, and battles. Some are gaining, some are losing in the short run but in a larger picture, the winners are the countries in the west. It reminds of the saying that in the battle of two cats, the dog takes the benefit. It was taught in the class of International Relations class that why the United States is considered the strongest country because it created a regional hegemony in its area and create mayhem in other regions so that no one nation can shake up the present political balance of power. It is highly necessary for the countries despite their past become at least strategic partners to make the saying true that the 21st century belongs to the Asia Pacific.

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