Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Tadae Takubo

【#255】Analyzing Asian International Order

Tadae Takubo / 2014.07.17 (Thu)

July 14, 2014

     It is difficult to analyze the international situation in which political, military, economic and other factors are intertwined with short-, medium- and long-term time elements. On July 3, Chinese President Xi Jingping became the first Chinese president to visit South Korea before North Korea. The United States and China held a bilateral ministerial strategic and economic dialogue in Beijing on July 9 and 10. To coincide with it, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe toured New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. How should we figure out the international order involving Asia?

U.S.-China dialogue broke down
     I would like to figure out the situation from Washington’s point of view. According to Japanese media reports, the United States and China remained apart at their sixth strategic and economic dialogue over a “new model of major country relations,” that can be said as a Chinese version of “G-2” theory under which the two countries control Asia-Pacific problems.
     As I noted in earlier Speaking Out columns, the United States and China have yet to specifically define the new model of major country relations. Accordingly it may be natural for them to differ. But they have persistently hoped to maintain their current relations to avoid war as the worst result. Therefore, they have agreed to hold the seventh dialogue in Washington next year.
     Being sophisticated, the United States has been pursuing to strengthen the relations with its allies and friends while maintaining the new model of relations with China. In fact, U.S. President Barack Obama visited Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines in May.
     The balance between the United States' relations with its allies and friends and with China moved to the disadvantage of China at the dialogue for three reasons: (1) China has continued cyber-attacks on major U.S. companies, (2) China abruptly established an Air Defense Identification Zone covering the Senkaku Islands of Okinawa Prefecture last November, and (3) China moved a giant oil-drilling rig into Vietnam's exclusive economic zone after Obama's Asian tour. If U.S.-China relations are mended, the United States' relations with its allies may loosen.

Tailwind blowing for Japan's Abe
     China has met resistance from neighboring countries in the East and South China Seas and seen its relations with the United States beginning to sour. President Xi visited Seoul as strategically and tactically ignorant South Korean President Park Geun-hye snuggled up to China only to jointly counter Japan at a time when China found it difficult to deal with trouble-making North Korea. But Xi failed to make achievements he had expected during his South Korea visit.
     Twinkling in such situation may be Japanese Prime Minister Abe. He got a warm welcome in Australia and two other Oceanic countries. India's new administration is remarkably pro-Japan. So are most of Southeast Asian countries. A tailwind is blowing for Japan.

Tadae Takubo is Vice President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.