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Russia’s nonproliferation policy and global strategic stability

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While the weight of accumulated problems and troubling instabilities in strategic sphere is significant, relations among nuclear powers are very far from being well-tempered. The situation is heavily overshadowed by disintegration of the arms control architecture, mostly due to the destructive course of the previous U.S. Administration. The New START Treaty is practically the last surviving pillar.

Active diplomacy has provided some glimpse of hope earlier in 2021. The understandings reached by the Presidents of Russia and the U.S. opened a window of opportunity for constructive interaction of two major stewards of nuclear arsenals.

First, the two leaders agreed to extend the New START. They also reconfirmed in a Joint Statement the principle that nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought. They highlighted the priority to reduce the risk of any armed conflict between our countries. These are very important and long-awaited steps that Russia has been persistently advocating for. It is also noteworthy to mention that Russia and China have also publicly at the highest level come out in favor of the inadmissibility of nuclear war, as well as of any armed conflict involving nuclear powers. Now, we believe it is high time for the whole P5 to jointly reiterate this formula. We would see it as a significant political message both to each other and to international community.

The above-mentioned steps on a bilateral U.S.-Russia track have created a basis for further endeavors. A necessary momentum was achieved, as President Putin and President Biden at their June meeting in Geneva instructed their respective interagency teams to resume the strategic stability dialogue (SSD). The Presidents expect this dialogue to be integrated, deliberate and robust. The sides will seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures. This means that we have to address a broad spectrum of intertwined issues on strategic agenda in a holistic way, including new and emerging challenges to the security of our countries. The task is difficult and time-consuming, but this should not prevent us from making all possible effort.

We have just started. Two bilateral interagency meetings were held. They were mainly about identifying “default settings” and actual structure of the dialogue. As a first substantial step, we initiated discussions on our respective threat perceptions and security concerns. Next, it would be logical to outline possible ways to address these concerns on a mutually acceptable basis, including through arms control and risk reductions measures. In terms of defining common goals for the interaction both delegations actually agree that this process should serve to stabilize bilateral relations in the strategic area, ensure predictability, prevent arms race, build up arms control, and reduce risks of armed conflicts.

With that, it is yet to be proved by practical steps that the U.S. is ready to change its destabilizing course and pursue the above-mentioned ambitious goals through interaction on an equal basis. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. is actually ready to take into account our legitimate security interests and concerns.

We tend to believe that there is a chance for pragmatic approach to prevail and for the U.S. to engage with Russia in good faith with a view to seek balanced and mutually acceptable solutions. So far, we note the professional and business-like atmosphere at the SSD meetings. As a positive sign we also see the understanding reached on establishing two exert-level Working Groups – on principles and objectives for future arms control and on potentials and actions with strategic effect.

On our part, we have presented a vision on how to frame the SSD, and what is desirable to achieve as a result thereof. The underlying idea is to jointly develop a “new security equation” that would cover all factors affecting strategic stability. We want to embrace the entire spectrum of both nuclear and non-nuclear, offensive and defensive arms with strategic capability.

As for offensive arms, we need to pay particular attention to nuclear and high-precision conventional systems that could be used in a counterforce strike against the territory of the other side with a view to weaken or even neutralize its deterrent. Our strong conviction is that discussions should focus on delivery vehicles and associated platforms, as well as deployed warheads that pose direct operational threat.

Speaking of strategic defensive systems, I obviously refer to respective missile defence assets. The principle of inseparable interrelationship between strategic offensive and strategic defensive arms remains to be the crux of the very concept of strategic stability. It is enshrined in the New START Treaty. This is why there is no way to avoid addressing the issue of missile defence in the framework of the “new security equation”.

Another indispensable topic is “post-INF dynamics” and possible efforts to mitigate the damage inflicted upon the international security by the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty. We continue to stick to our mutual verifiable moratoria initiative that is designed to ensure restraint and predictability in this area.

It is also important to develop common approaches to preventing arms race in outer space and ensuring security of space activities.

The concepts and ideas on the American side, seem to be somewhat immature at this stage due to the ongoing review process initiated by the new Administration with regard to doctrines, postures and strategies. But both delegations believe that in the meantime there is still enough space for discussions.

It is of no surprise that so far the two sides have many discords and opposite views, with only a few points of convergence. But it is just the beginning of the journey. If political will and readiness for creative diplomacy prevail, then there are no unbridgeable gaps.

The NPT remains the cornerstone and an integral element of the international security system. More than half of a century of the Treaty existence is, in our view, by itself a strong evidence of stability and effectiveness of the NPT. During this period the Treaty has demonstrated that it serves the interests of all Participating States, both nuclear and non-nuclear.

As a State Party to the NPT and one of its depositories, Russia fulfills its obligations and confirms its strong and unwavering support for the Treaty. In particular, Russia is fully committed to the goal of nuclear disarmament. It has been consistently reducing its nuclear arsenal and diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in its national defense policy. We intend to continue working in that direction, as well as to maintain a balance between mastering “the peaceful atom” and strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime. In this context Russia provides support and shares its extensive experience in the area of peaceful nuclear cooperation with other Participating States, as well as contributes to strengthening of the IAEA safeguards system, which ensure reliable verification that States fulfill their NPT obligations.

We are approaching the 10th NPT Review Conference which will be held on January 4-28, 2022, New York, in a complex setting. In recent years, the NPT regime has been undergoing serious tests and challenges. On the one hand, countries that continue to stand on extreme anti-nuclear positions are reinforcing their disarmament rhetoric without taking into account the on-ground situation in the area of international security. On the other hand, the existing system of nonproliferation and arms control treaties and agreements is being a target for dismantlement or destruction efforts. The INF Treaty has been destroyed by the U.S. The future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear programme remains unclear. We see again and again shamelessly open attempts to use the NPT as an instrument to exert political pressure or settle political scores with States.

This year marks the 25th anniversary since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature. Nevertheless, the Treaty has not yet entered into force, and we are concerned by not only the lack of any tangible progress in this process but even by the serious deterioration of the situation. The responsibility lies with those eight states on the so-called “List of 44 countries” whose ratification and/or signature are necessary for the CTBT to enter into force. The most destructive role in this context, again, plays the U.S., which has become the only state that has officially refused to ratify the CTBT.

We recall that Russia signed the CTBT in 1996 and ratified this Treaty in 2000, and we are working hard on making it truly universal both in bilateral and multilateral formats. As you may know the construction of the Russian segment of the international monitoring system nears completion. To date, 29 out of 32 stations of monitoring in the Russian segment of the system have been certified.

The situation around the previously rather non-contentious issue the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ) – becomes more complicated. The additional protocols to the NWFZ Treaties traditionally contain binding assurances that prevent the use or threat of use by nuclear states of nuclear weapons against States – Parties to particular zone (so-called negative assurances). At the same time, nuclear states, with the exception of China, make traditional reservations when signing or ratifying protocols to the Treaties. The pressure on the nuclear weapon states to renounce the above-mentioned reservations has sharply increased in recent years.

All reservations are made by Russia when signing the additional protocols in full conformity with the “letter and spirit” of the NPT and do not contradict globally shared norms of international law. They only clarify that the security assurances given to the States Parties to the NWFZ treaties will not be valid in case of any misuse of the relevant provisions of the Treaties, as well as when these provisions are misused by other nuclear powers.

Now as a consequence of the recently established AUKUS partnership we are facing a new risk of developing of nuclear infrastructure of nuclear weapon states in a State Party to the Rarotonga Treaty. This case became for us a clear confirmation of our political understanding that certain reservations to the Protocols to the Treaties on Nuclear Free Zones are fully justified.

Another major challenge to the nonproliferation regime and a key agenda point for the upcoming 10th NPT Review Conference is the issue of establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and all other WMD and their means of delivery (WMDFZ). The resolution on the Middle East, adopted in 1995 at the NPT Review and Extension Conference, is viewed by the Arab states as part of a package solution, another element of which is the indefinite extension of the NPT.

In December 2018, the UN General Assembly, on the initiative of the Arab states, adopted a respective decision to convene such a Conference. Russia supported this decision. The 2019 conference on a WMD-free zone became a first practical step in many years towards the establishment of a such zone. We took part in this Conference as an observer. The next step was taken shortly. The second Conference on WMD free zone was held in New York from November 29 to December 3, 2021, where Russia participated as an observer at the meeting.

We note with regret that the negative position of the United States and Israel on the issue of establishment of WMDFZ remains unchanged. This will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the discussion of the topic during the NPT review process. We remember well that the WMDFZ issue became a stumbling point at the drafting process of the final document of the 2015 NPT Review Conference.

Russia has always advocated the settlement of any regional challenges to the nonproliferation regime exclusively through diplomatic means, and on the basis of the NPT. It is from this position that we consider the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula. We believe that it is necessary to intensify the dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang. At the same time, it is important to understand that the settlement of the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula is possible only through providing reliable international legal guaranties for the DPRK.

For many years Russia has been providing its unwavering support to the IAEA as the only international organization with the authority and the necessary technical capabilities to implement verification measures within the scope of the NPT. However, the situation here is also far from what we would like to see. Unfortunately, the roots of subjectivity have sneaked into the Agency. The Syrian issue at the IAEA may serve as showcase for this. Allegations against this state were raised without any clear evidence but only on the basis of statements justified by “highly likely” and “very likely”. Nothing in particular, we see that the incident with disappearance in Japan of weapons-grade plutonium has been neglected and the IAEA makes public very controversial broader conclusions for countries where the U.S. nuclear weapons are located. In this context we are seriously concerned by the ongoing comprehensive reform of the IAEA’s safeguards system. We believe it may enforce and enlarge the already existing subjectivity in the Agency’s verification mechanism. Under this complicated and highly conflicting conditions, it is important for all States to look at the international nonproliferation and arms control agenda for topics that can unite, but in no way split, the States Parties to the Treaty. This is highly relevant to the upcoming 10th NPT Review Conference. We will work hard and in cooperative manner to draft and adopt a final document of the Review Conferece. 

From our partner RIAC

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Why shouldn’t Israel Undermine Iran’s Conventional Deterrence

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When Naftali Bennett took over as the prime minister of Israel, it was expected that he would take a different approach compared to Netanyahu. This could be a probable expectation, save for the issue of Iran, since Iran is considered a consistent strategic and existential threat in the eyes of Israeli political and military officials same way that Israel has always been considered an enemy in the strategic culture of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Therefore, with the resumption of the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, Israel has intensified its campaign for an imminent military strike on Iran. On the other hand, Iran has tried to create a balance of missile threat against Israel based on valid deterrence during the past years.

However, the level and the nature of performance and deterrence of these two influential actors of the Middle East are fundamentally different. While Iran has defined its deterrence based on hybrid missile deterrence concepts—including direct and extended deterrence—, Israel’s deterrence is based on preemptive warfare, a.k.a. “immediate deterrence,” irrespective of its nuclear capabilities, policies of “strategic ambiguity” and “defensible borders strategy.”

From a direct deterrence perspective (i.e., the strength of a large missile fire from within Iranian territory) and given the extended and asymmetric dimensions (i.e., strengthening missile capabilities of the axis of resistance), the Islamic Republic of Iran believes that Israel will gradually become weaker and more fragile defensively, considering the importance of objective components in the area of ​​deterrence—such as geographical depth and population, and this will derive Israeli leaders to consider their fragile security and survival before any attempt to take on a direct military confrontation with Iran. For instance, when the tensions over Iran’s nuclear program escalated between 2010 and 2013 during the Obama administration, none of Iran’s nuclear facilities was attacked, despite Israel’s repeated expression of its willingness to do so. Former defense minister Ehud Barak justified this inaction with the pretext of Barack Obama’s opposition and lack of support.  In fact, the Netanyahu administration sought to instill this idea to the world that Israel has both the “determination” and the “ability” to attack Iran should this preemptive action not have been faced with Washington objection. The fact that Netanyahu still failed to implement the idea even during Trump administration—as John Bolton points out in the first chapter of his book—despite his overwhelming support for Israel, indicated the fact that Israel does not have independent military capabilities and determination to take such hostile action at no cost without the support of the US.

Therefore, despite the constant claims of Israeli officials, this country’s general strategy so far has been to avoid direct military confrontation with Iran and to focus on less intense and covert warfare. This has changed since 2017 due to Israel’s objection to pro-Iranian forces regaining the control over Al-Bukamal Qa’im border crossing on the Iraqi-Syrian border, and the consequent lack of a proportionate and retaliatory response from Iran to Israel’s ongoing operations in Syria. In fact, inaction of Iran has allowed Israeli army to expand its campaign from northern borders and the Golan Heights (as the first ring) to the province of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, then to the depths of Iraq in cooperation with the US (as the second ring), and eventually, inside the Iranian territory (as the third ring). The expansion of Israel’s subversive actions deep inside Iran is an effort to discredit Iran’s deterrence as well as undermining Iran’s strategic stability, while also dismantling Iran’s military and nuclear capabilities.

In the meantime, Israel’s embark on the strategy of Third-Circle Directorate based on intensifying low-level but effective military actions on Iranian soil has played a greater role in undermining Iran’s conventional deterrent advantages. Israel’s repeated operation and its recklessness in accepting responsibility for such actions has taken Israel’s belief and determination that it can target Iran’s assets and strategic resources inside and outside of Iran with numerous intermittent actions to a new level. Therefore, it can be said that while the previous positions of Israeli officials regarding the bombing and cessation of Iran’s nuclear capabilities were mostly focused on the assassination of Iranian scientists, targeted cyberattacks, sabotages, and bombings of industrial, security, and military facilities, there is no guarantee that the Third-Circle Directorate would not extent to explicit and direct entry of Israeli fighters, bombers or ballistic missiles to bomb Iran’s nuclear and military facilities in cooperation with the United States or independently.

If Israel mistakes Iran’s inaction with inability to respond and decides to extend Mabam Campaign to air or missile strikes inside the Iranian borders, it should not be sure of the unpredictable consequences. Iran has not yet responded decisively to cyber-attacks, the assassination of its scientists, and the Israeli sabotages due to the fact that these actions have been designed and carried out in such a way that Iran has assessed the damage as compensable. That is, a long set of low-level attacks were conducted to change the state of the field without taking actions that justifies an extensive reaction. Iran’s failure to respond to the recent Israeli attack on the port of Latakia is a clear example of the success and effectiveness of Salami Slicing strategy. Such strategies are designed to engage Iran in a polygonal dilemma: that it cannot respond to every individual military actions and small-scale sabotage, while inaction against these multiple small and non-intensive attacks will gradually result in losing its strategic position and deterrent credibility.

This very, unique Israeli strategy in military confrontation with Iran has reinforced the assessment of the Bennett administration about the serious weakness of Iran’s conventional deterrence. As a clear case Foreign Minister Yair Lapid claimed that “Israel could attack Iran if necessary without informing the Biden administration, which is looking to rejoin the nuclear deal”. This problem became more apparent after the assassination of the commander of the Quds Force of the IRGC, especially in the last months of Donald Trump’s presidency. In other words, if Tehran decided to respond directly to various Israeli actions, such as the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and attacks on its military and industrial centers, the risk of a war with Israel with the support of the US would increase. By the same token, this has in fact given Tehran an opportunity not to retaliate based on the concept of conventional strategic stability. That is, at this level of conflict, Iran’s confidence in its ability to retaliate makes it easier for this country to limit and delay the response. From Iranian perspective, therefore, conventional strategic stability means preventing armed conflict in the Middle East, especially a level of conflict that directly threatens its security and territory.

However, if Israel tries to discredit Iran’s conventional deterrence and strategic stability by launching a direct air strike into Iranian territory, Iran’s retaliatory response will not be as limited and symbolic as the attack on the US base of Ain al-Assad in Iraq, because Tehran would face the so-called “Sputnik moment” dilemma, which forces it to test its missile credibility. In such a situation, Iran will be forced to first, launch a decisive comprehensive missile response against Israel and then change its deterrent structure from conventional to nuclear by leaving the NPT in order to contain pressure of domestic public opinion, maintain its credibility with regional rivals such as Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and even the Republic of Azerbaijan, and to reassure its proxy forces in the axis of resistance.

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Indo-Pacific strategy and the new China-IDF relationship

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The signing of the United States of America (the new Aukus defense agreement and the Quad Quartet agreement with Japan, India and Australia), had significant future repercussions on the Middle East region and the balances of power and influence within it, given its great geopolitical importance, according to these new American agreements in the “Indo-Pacific region”, China will have to (face a new strong defense alliance in the Indo-Pacific region, then transfer this entire Chinese conflict to the Middle East and the Iranian nuclear file and increase Chinese influence in the sea straits and waterways in the Middle East), an alliance welcomed by regional partners such as  Japan. The three countries in the new US regional alliances and polarizations of “Japan, India, and Australia” also make it clear that such agreements with the United States of America are a (historic opportunity for them and their allies to protect common values ​​and enhance security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region). On the other hand, we find that those American agreements and alliances in the “Indo-Pacific” region surrounding China will be reflected in one way or another and may increase in the Middle East, for China will have to transfer conflict and competition with Washington to the region, Israel and Iran, and this will have future consequences and repercussions.  The countries of the region in the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf, as follows:

The equation of competition between the United States and China in the Middle East has increased since the Biden administration took office, and here (placing the neutral countries in the middle became more difficult). One of the areas that may witness an escalation in the intensity of competition between the two sides is the Middle East.

To understand the vision of regional countries for their interests with the two powers, it is necessary to look at the initial indicators issued by the Biden’s administration towards the region. It has become clear that the US administration has a desire to reformulate its approach towards the region, but (it is not yet clear how deep this American step and its impact on the regional security structure sponsored by the United States, especially in the Arab Gulf region).

The US Defense Secretary “Lloyd Austin” announced a comprehensive strategic review of the status of US forces around the world, including the Middle East. It seems that officials in the US Department of Defense “Pentagon” are tending to reconsider the status of US forces in the Middle East, which may be understood (not a condition of reducing them), in favor of increasing the size of the forces in the “Indo-Pacific” region.

At the present time, the Biden administration’s focus was on (ending the war in Yemen, reviving the negotiation track over the Iranian nuclear file), and it did not show much interest in other pivotal files.

In parallel with the previous US approach, the US National Security Adviser “Jake Sullivan”, reduced the number of Middle East experts in the US National Security Council, and significantly increased the number and hierarchy of Indo-Pacific experts.

Defense Minister “Lloyd Austin” also appointed three advisers to him, all of them are Asian experts, and none of them specialize in Middle Eastern issues, in contrast to the approach of all previous US administrations, due to the danger of China, according to the current US security strategy.

These American steps toward China reflect the Biden administration’s vision of the world from the perspective of “the theory of the great power conflict”, which prevailed during the Cold War, and the decline of the Middle East on its list of priorities.

On the Israeli-Chinese side, Beijing will try to play an increasing role inside Israel in order to bring about rapprochement with Tel Aviv at the expense of Washington.  Here, we note the (extent and seriousness of Chinese companies sought to obtain contracts to operate the main Israeli ports, as Washington was particularly concerned about a Chinese company winning a tender to manage a port in Haifa, where the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet is anchored).

Perhaps the future analysis will come in (China’s attempt to play a challenge to American interests inside Israel, and China’s future planning in order to manage all Israeli ports, and thus control the shipping lanes in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea). Which is what Washington fears the most.

In addition to China’s desire to invest and be present in vital infrastructure projects in Israel, (China is trying to obtain this advanced Israeli technology, and trying to obtain any monopoly information that can be harvested in China by Israeli companies to benefit from it in the aspects of Chinese progress and innovation), thus, he challenged American technological progress from the Israeli gate.

The most important and most dangerous for me, analytically, is the attempts of the People’s Republic of China to obtain all Israeli trade secrets related to the United States of America, and even more dangerous in the future is (the rapprochement of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army with the Israel Defense Forces, which relies heavily on advanced American equipment such as  Fighter “F-35”).

From my analytical point of view, the expectation remains that (if China succeeds in increasing its ability to exist, monitor and infiltrate the Israeli army), this may allow Beijing to obtain all American military technological secrets from Israel directly, and here is the danger for the United States of America being  Israel is a conduit through which the (People’s Liberation Army of China) “PLA” achieves greater parity with the US armed forces. This is what Washington is trying to confront from Tel Aviv to counter Chinese influence there, as the United States of America cannot in any way allow its military technology to fall into the hands of its main opponent, China.

   Perhaps the final analysis here, is explaining that (the absence of American thinking of a clear strategy until now to confront the growing Chinese influence in the region and the world), and perhaps it is a continuation of the same approach of the “Trump’s administration”, as the United States shows interest in what it does not want, without presenting a clear vision of the results that you want access to this conflict.

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China, Vietnam, Philippines and United States Sustainability in the South China Sea

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The guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville during a replenishment-at-sea with the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Harris/U.S. Navy/Flickr

Authors : Nabel Akram, Imran Altaf, Komal Tariq

Supremacy of any world power depends upon its control over the important Geo-strategic places. A hegemon must have influence over the Geo-strategic places. This rule is generally applied for every world super power. Other factors like the will to lead, economic, political and military factors are also important but these factors are restricted in a specific sphere of influence. Influence over Geo-strategic important places enhances the influence over other countries related to that place. Britain remained the superpower due to occupation of such important places. The US as a super power and hegemon, is enjoying influence over the Geo-strategic places in the world. The US has influence over Malacca Strait, Suez Canal, and Panama Canal etc. (Oral, 2012). On strategic places, the US is facing challenges from China and Russia. Russia has occupied Crimea the strategically important place in East Europe which covers black sea and offered a way towards Mediterranean Sea. On the other hand, China is struggling hard to get control over South China Sea (SCS). The SCS is an important Geo-strategic, Geo-economic and geopolitical place for world. It contains plenty of natural resources and the hub of fishing. It covers half of the world trade passage. The US has enjoyed strong influence in this place after WWII, but, now the US is facing great resistance from China. The US does not want to lose its influence in East Asia and the SCS. The US is struggling hard with the coordination of the ASEAN states, Japan, Australia and India. China is gradually strengthening its control over the SCS. Due to economic growth, China has got influence over regional countries. Most critical area of South China Sea dispute contains two groups of islands such as Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands. Paracel archipelago comes under the rule of China (The People’s Republic of China, 2014). China has occupied this group of islands in 1974. Spratly islands are most disputed among China, Philippines and Vietnam (Ngo, 2017). This group of islands are under the different countries like China, Vietnam, Philippine, Malaysia and Taiwan. China has constructed seven artificial islands on this place (Southerland, 2016). The US has initiated Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the SCS region with objective to contain China from establishing its hegemony in this region. It has increased the sensitivity of this issue in region (Harress, 2015).   

Vietnam and Philippines both are the potential rival of China in South China Sea dispute. These countries have deep economic and diplomatic ties with China. Both countries are engaging China to set up alliances with the US and other important states for restraining and hedging China. Vietnam and Philippines are making efforts to strengthen their military setup against China. The US is providing its assistance to the rival states of China and opposing Chinese irredentist claim with the help of maritime law and the right of freedom of navigation in the SCS as an international sea. In this way, China has to face potential rivalry from the US, Vietnam and Philippines in SCS.

Philippines and Vietnam have huge trade and diplomatic relations with China for hedging China. Both countries even have strong economic and strategic relations with Chinese competitors like the US, Russia, Japan and India. In this way, both countries are reducing the risk. Vietnam is consistently building its military capabilities through strong economy and making alliances with the strong countries and international and regional institutions. There are following way which cause to hedging China.

  • For hedging China, Philippines and Vietnam are engaging China through a huge trade volume and interdependence. Vietnam has become the biggest trading partner of China. Mutual interdependence will cause to stop China from taking any aggressive action against Vietnam.
  • Philippines and Vietnam are developing diplomatic, political, party to party and people to people relations with China. This will help to know about the behavior of China towards Philippines and Vietnam over South China Sea dispute.
  • Philippines and Vietnam are focusing to increase its military strength. For this purpose, Vietnam has bought large military equipment from Russia and developed its military equipment complex in Vietnam for modernizing its military equipment with the help of Russia. Philippines has increased its military alliance with the US.
  • Vietnam has made alliances with world powers like the US, Russia, India, Japan etc. to secure itself against any aggression from China. For this purpose, it has engaged itself in many exercises and joint ventures with the US and many other countries.
  • Philippines and Vietnam has improved its relations with neighboring countries who can provide help in time of difficulty. This is the reason that Philippines and Vietnam are active in ASEAN forum.

China would play its role as a hegemon after the US. The US should contain China through its neighboring countries like Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore and Russia. To gain hegemonic status, it is necessary to become regional hegemon. John Mearsheimer supports regional hegemon. He gives example of the US that it first became regional hegemon in 1898 after Monroe doctrine and gained world hegemonic status after the WWII (Mearsheimer, 2004).

China has acquired economic and military power and about to become a regional hegemon. John Mearsheimer (2006) suggests China to gain hegemonic status; China must need to become regional hegemon and to get more power than its neighbors like Japan, Russia and India. China should increase its military strength and power. China has to regain Taiwan for establishing the status of regional hegemon (Mearsheimer, China’s Unpeaceful Rise, 2006).

Rising security demands of China has unsecured the neighboring countries. Arm race has been started in East Asia region. Although, China has maintained good relations with its neighbors but they have strong concerns over Chinese security measures. China’s largest economy and advanced military stimulate China to control its surroundings (Roy, 2013).

After open up policies, China has rapidly grown and become world imminent actor. To become a great power, China has to respond all challenges positively and set its priorities to overcome its drawbacks. In future, China should not claim its hegemony. China should need to advocate new world system with some reforms in economy and politics without claiming its hegemony (Bijian, 2005).

China is the largest trading partner of Vietnam. Vietnam’s second largest export partner is China with 13.2 percent of its export. The US secure biggest trading partner with 21 percent of Vietnamese export and Japan secured third with 8.4 percent of Vietnam export. Vietnam’s first largest import partner is China with 34 percent of its import and Japan secured fourth largest import partner with 6.4 percent of Vietnamese import (CIA, 2017). A huge numbers of Chinese foreign direct investment companies are working in Vietnam. It is estimated that about 833 companies are running their business in Vietnam in 2011. The quantity of these companies are increasing day by day and their total registered capital is 4.3 billion. There are following benefits of Vietnam for economic partnership with China;

Spratly Islands (Kalyan Islands Group) are the part of Philippines territory. KIG is the part of Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) under UNCLOS 1982 (Palma, 2009). Philippines has filed a case against China and its historical claim of nine dash lines in International court of Tribunal in Hague in 2013. Court has given decision in favor of Philippines on 12 July 2016 but China has rejected the decision and remained adamant in its claim (France-Presse, Agence, July 8th, 2016). Philippines and Chinese relations worsen due to Philippines case and the ongoing problem in Scarborough Shoal and Chinese construction of new islands. This was the scenario when Philippines new president Rodrigo Roe Duterte took charge on 30 July 2016 (Philippine History, 2017) and initiated new strategy that is called strategic hedging. Although Philippines previous governments have close economic and political relations but current government is leading in this respect.  Philippines started to engage China with a huge trade volume. Politically, Philippines has come closer to China (Shead, 2017).

The Geo-strategic position and bundle of resources are the main reason that China is very conscious to control this region whereas other regional actors like Vietnam, Philippine, Malaysia and Brunei are also active for sovereignty over these islands due to Geo-proximity and resources. The US as the global hegemon has become the part of this game and wants to get its part from these resources. This is the reason that it has established strong alliances with other stack holders against China and also provoking Japan, Australia and India against China due to this regional dispute. The SCS is important for the US for three purposes; first it secures the US trade and military, second, it is check to restrain and contain the Chinese hegemony in the East Asia region (Mustajib, 2016), third, it is necessary for the protection of the US allies like Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan and ASEAN member countries. On the trade basis, the SCS is the passage of the 5 trillion annual ships (Robinson, 2018) and ships related to the US trade and military activities are worth 1.2 trillion dollar trade with East Asian countries (Mustajib, 2016).

Peace lies in continuous diplomatic engagement of claimant countries of the SCS dispute. Any change in existing status quo might put the peace of whole region at risk. Philippines and Vietnam consider China as an assertive state. Both States want to establish close relations with China in order to stop China from assertive actions. The US has strong political, economic and military bilateral alliances with Philippine, Vietnam and other ASEAN countries.  The US has launched the FONE operations in the SCS to contain China. These operations show that the US wants to sustain its hegemony in East Asia.

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The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) presents a significant opportunity to build out low-carbon infrastructure in emerging and developing economies...

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