Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chinese Military Modernisation and Stability in the Western Pacific

Here's the link to an article on Chinese military modernisation and its impact on the stbility of the Western Pacific.

The study has been done by Marcus Hellyer of the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies, Australian Defence College. The study cites my article on Chinese military strategy to say that beijing will use anti-access strategies to deter or defeat the US in case of a Taiwan Straits crisis. The conclusions are interesting and might come back to bite them (Austrlia) in the future.

The study concludes to suggest that the growing Chinese military might "is not a cause for concern for a number of reasons. On balance, the conclusions it draws are that China is modernising its armed forces, developing peacefully, and behaving in the manner of a responsible global citizen. Further, it finds that China’s immediate neighbours in this region, with the exception of Taiwan, do not
regard China as a military threat. They have not, for example, undertaken balancing or containment activities, or significantly increased their own military spending."

I am not sure if the conclusions are valid entirely. I disagree on the point that there has been no balancing or containment activities in Asia. Have we forgotten about the "Quad" and the military exercises that followed among India, US, Austrlia and Japan? I also don't believe that India-US nuclear agreement had no strategic undercurrents, to say. Besides improving India-US relationship to a qualitatively higher level, the nuclear agreement had a clear strategic imperative.

So, let us not dilute the importance of these initiatives altogether and say all is well in Asia. In fact, while much of the Chinese neighbourhood has adopted a "wait-and-awatch" approach to China's rise, there is increasing apprehension whether the rise of China will lead to a period of Chinese hegemony. The most recent outburst has been in the Australian defence white paper that said that the "pace, scope and structure” of such modernisation can trigger concern among the Asian neighbours unless China undertakes some serious confidence building measures among these neighbours." If the region and the rest of the world are to believe that China seeks a harmonious environment for its development and that its rise is peaceful, it has to do lot more in its actions than just verbal statements. Its attitude towards sveral of its neighbours, including Russia, India and Japan, are not particularly reassuring.

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