The Far East; region of emerging crises

New, serious problem for the global geopolitics is looming. In the Far East, struggle for supremacy between US and China has intensified. There is a sense in Beijing that America is surrounding the country from the sea.

The indications of the great struggle

The "Arab Spring" is seriously affecting the global geopolitical picture. Presently, great attention is riveted to the Near and the Middle East. However, it would be false to assume that those events may overshadow the geopolitical processes evolving in the Far East. It is there, that world superpowers are flexing their muscles for ultimate supremacy.

According to some reports in the U.S. media, the country has deployed nearly 70-80% of its navy fleet into the Pacific. Washington is dispatching its most advanced vessels into that region. Initially one may conclude that there are no viable reasons for such an act, due to absence of a country waging a war in that location. However, some aspects emerge while taking a broader look into the situation.

Slowing down China’s rapid development pace is something that Western politicians contemplate upon. It’s likely that in several years time, China will become a country to generate enough strength to compete with US on the global scale.

According to some forecasts, Beijing may even turn into a global leader. Chinese leaders deny the fact, modestly placing themselves into the "developing countries" classification, although real figures illustrate different picture.

Certain analysts believe that US stands little chance of emerging victorious from this rivalry. Therefore, United States of America has initiated a systematic geopolitical course to prevent defeat.

Renowned political scientists of the West such as, H.Kissinger and Z.Brzezinski conclude that US-China rivalry will be the top matter of the global geopolitical picture of the future. It’s arduous to unequivocally predict a lucky party in this process, since incidental contribution may drastically shift the relation of forces.

Geopolitical and economic processes progressing in Asia-Pacific underpin these conclusions. In the meantime there seems to be a growing geopolitical risk for America.

"Island" conflicts in the Far East

Overview of international media’s analysis of the events in the Far East shows several emerging conflict epicenters that can be divided into two groups. The first are regional countries’ reciprocal territorial claims over the islands. Interestingly, China seems to be a contesting party in every dispute.

China shares a problem with Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei over Paracel Islands, a three island archipelago laying in the South China Sea.

China just appeared to have an "island" issue with Japan. Japan has announced ownership of the purchased Senkaku Islands (China refers to them as Diaoyutai Islands) and China confronted vigorously official Tokyo’s claim, by deploying military vessels into the area. Tensions between China and Japan are still heightened over the dispute.

How is the U.S. connected with all of this? According to publications in Chinese "Global Times" and "Jenmin Jebao" newspapers, America bears a direct relation to the matters. Article in the August the 6th edition of the Chinese "Global Times" reads: "USA has to realize the difference between the South China Sea and the Mediterranean." meaning not to confuse Far East with the Middle East. "Jenmin Jibao" used harsher language saying: "We can shout at the US: shut up!" Such reactions from China are not groundless.

The issue is that there are certain parallels between significant military aid to Chinese rivals in the region and the enkindling of "island problems". U.S. navy vessels have suddenly emerged in Cam Rahn in Vietnam. Americans have also conducted military exercises along with Vietnam and the Philippines, while announcing close assistance to modernization of the latter’s military. Those events coincide with this April’s heightened disputes over the islands. Washington unequivocally supports Tokyo in the islands dispute between China and Japan. In the meantime U.S. increases military aid to the "Land of the Rising Sun".

Thus, in light of the "islands problem", the U.S. is steadily building military pressure along with China’s borders, by deploying military vessels to country’s immediate sea frontiers and by providing new military equipment to Japan and South Korea. Air defense capabilities are being enhanced in the Asia-Pacific. New military base for marines in Australia and another air force base elsewhere in the region are being set up.

Energy and raw materials: new strike dimension

Second confrontation is related to U.S actions against China in the area of energy and raw materials. Military presence of the U.S. is a serious impediment to the Chinese investment in Afghanistan, thus China is prevented from getting dry land access to Pakistan and Iran, a precondition for efficient cooperation in the energy and raw materials field.

U.S. utilizes every option to obstruct Chinese access to oil and gas reserves of the Central Asia. Threat of enkindling of conflicts on these grounds has increased in the region. The level of China’s energy cooperation with Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan may have been much higher.

Presently, Washington is stepping up efforts to "block" African "route" for China. China was the topic of serious discussions during Hillary Clinton’s visit to the "black continent" this August. In 2011, trade turnover between China and African states has reached 166 billion US dollars; in exchange the U.S. has offered loans and military aid to the countries of the continent. In the meantime U.S. is exerting increasing pressure upon the ASEAN countries. Chinese trade with these countries has totaled to 363 billion US dollars. Certain countries of ASEAN had already chosen Washington in the U.S.-China stand off. China’s biggest rival in the region, India’s favorable choice of cooperation with the U.S also troubles Beijing. Analysts predict strengthening of the trend.

China’s "lonely pride" and the new realities

Chinese analysts in turn, are not at all optimistic about all this. According to Lee Szen of the Chinese naval military research institute, the U.S. is in the position to block maritime routes that are vital for China. That is a major reason for U.S. attempts to surround the country from the sea.

On the other hand, China’s allies on dry land are next to none. There are abundant examples that ascertain the nature of Beijing’s relations with its neighbors during the past 2 years. And it’s certainly a naivety to presume that "Great Wall" could serve as a solid defense against the advanced technical capabilities of the XXI century. Thus, Chinese leadership increasingly senses the pressure from the rivalry with the United States.

The unfolding of the situation in such a fashion in the Far East has serious global implications. Russian factor is also needs to be taken into account. Moscow’s most recent significant activity in the Far East direction mustn’t be neglected. Undoubtedly, when necessary, Russia will try to affect the U.S.-China rivalry. "Warming up of waters" in the Pacific can certainly push the "geopolitical temperature" up in the Central Asia. Events are entering into more perilous phase and there are noticeable disputes between the states in the region.

In some countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan social-political tensions are increasing. There are growing protests in Fargana (Uzbekistan), constant provocations against government officials in Pamir (Tajikistan) and renewed discontent on ethnic grounds in Osh (Kyrgyzstan).

Consequently, U.S.-China confrontation would breed tension in the vast geopolitical region, with no guarantees for curbing the trend. Thus, analysts do not exclude the possibility of emergence of the new standoff on the global stage.

Newtimes.az

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