US Pivot Toward Asia Will Be Complicated
Tensions In Asia Increase As US Prepares Foreign Policy Pivot
The Obama administration’s plans for a foreign policy pivot toward Asia is looking more complicated as relations in the region splinter.
South Korea has launched its first space rocket carrying a science satellite in response to last month’s successful rocket launch by North Korea, which has increased its rhetoric in the wake of United Nations sanctions.
According to the Voice of America, the official Korean Central News Agency promised “merciless retaliatory blows” and a “grand and just war for national reunification” in response to the sanctions.
There was no reference to the nuclear test threatened by North Korea last week following the unanimous Security Council decision, which punished Pyongyang for a December rocket launch.
Mistrust Complicates Ability Of US In Asia
As relations between Asian nations become more heated and more complicated, mistrust is limiting the ability of the US to act as an honest broker in the region.
Xiang Lanxin, a Kissinger scholar and an expert on international history and politics, tells the South China Morning Post that an absence of a clear strategy among the US, China and Japan creates more room for misreading the actions taken by any given nation.
“The problem here is the difficulty of reading others’ minds. Without a clear understanding of others’ strategic intentions, any move could be interpreted in the wrong way,” he says.
US Action Also Limited By Ambiguity Of International Law
With North Korea raising the rhetoric The Diplomat reporters Lucas Bento & Daniel Firger examine the legal limits that could constrain a US response if the rogue nation takes concrete action.
“Destroying a North Korean satellite may be explicitly legal under certain readings of Resolution 1874 or implicitly authorized by the controversial doctrine of anticipatory self-defense, but President Obama must nevertheless consider the wider geopolitical, diplomatic and military consequences of such a brazen act,” they write.
Japan Set To Increase Defense Spending
Partly as a consequence of the rising number of incursions by China into its waters, Japan will increase its defense spending for the first time in more than a decade.
On Wednesday three Chinese government ships entered the waters around the Tokyo-controlled chain of islands known as the Senkakus. In September Japan made the decision to nationalize some of the islands, which set off a growing diplomatic dispute between China and Japan.
“The events around the Senkakus made the Japanese realize they might not be safe,” Ikuo Kayahara, a former general and a visiting professor at Takushoku University in Tokyo, tells Bloomberg Businessweek.
At the same time, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed publicly a willingness to hold high-level talks in order to strengthen economic ties.
EU-China Telecom Dispute Could Result In Trade War
European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht issued a demand to China that it open is telecom markets following an investigation into alleged subsidies to Chinese companies, a move that has raised the ire of China.
Chinese diplomats view the demands as unreasonable and the dispute has the potential of leading to a trade war, reports The Financial Times.
Former EU Official Warns Against Unnecessary Disputes
Earlier this week in an interview with China Daily, former EU trade representative Peter Mendelson warned that there is more risk than reward in starting “unnecessary” disputes with China.