Connect with us

Southeast Asia

A Crucial Year for the Asia-Pacific Region: Gauging Elections and Strategic Transformations



Authors: Richard J. Cook and Maximilian Ohle*

With the increasing severity of the Sino-US peer competition, the Asia-Pacific faces a crucial year. South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Australia, all linchpins of Washington’s regional security order, face major elections, which have the potential to impact the wider regional strategic constellation, with lasting ramifications. Concurrently, the lack of any foreseeable results from the attempted détente between Beijing and Washington last November 15th, renders the relationship fraught, with distrust, misunderstandings and increasingly aggressive rhetoric, depicting a Scold War. Beijing seeks a controlling stake in regional trends and developments, more prominently influence over changes to the regional status quo in a way favorable to China without exacerbating perceptions of a China threat. Washington by contrast seeks to retain regional supremacy and continue to patron a regional order for democratic actors. The competing regional visions are identified with the narratives of Beijing’s idealistic-sounding “Community of Shared Destiny for Mankind” and the United States’ “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”. In the foreground of this competition, fancy footwork of balancing security with the US and economic benefits from China has served local actors well, however with competition gearing up for the long haul, this playoff is now struggling to come to terms with new uncertainties, as the elections show.

Since coming into office, President Biden stressed the importance of regional alliances and partnerships, and signaled a commitment to revitalizing and even expanding them. However, Biden thus far has not been able to deliver an alignment directive befitting to the US partners’ political strategies amid the Sino-US peer competition, and therefore protracted a solid basis of US leadership, despite a resurgent demand for it. Also, in the foreground, are a range of region-wide concerns about China’s behavior, involving inter alia the territorial claims in the South China Sea, the wider geopolitical impact of the Belt and Road Initiative, the handling of Hong Kong SAR and cross-strait relations. Moreover, Beijing appears somewhat aloof when attempting to reconcile signals and actions, which have noticeably pushed Asia-Pacific states away from its regional leadership aspirations. So, how will the 2022 elections impact the wider Asia-Pacific strategic transformations and what might this entail for the Sino-US peer competition?

The Race for the Blue House

March 9th will arguably see the region’s most significant election in South Korea, between the incumbent Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) with Lee Jae-myung as presidential nominee and Yoon Seok-youl’s conservative People Power Party (PPP). The Presidential race, in which President Moon is unable to run due to presidential term limits, is largely seen as a neck-and-neck competition.

Here, the contrasts between the regional strategic conceptions of the parties are notable. The DPK thus far has hinted a ‘more of the same’ government program, primarily as it appears set on continuing a quiet strategic balance with the Sino-US competition as a means to cooperate with China over the DPRK. The DPK have also continued efforts to initiate an earlier handover for full operational control (OPCON) of the military, a significant step to signal a peacetime security condition. It is hoped that this may aid the inter-Korea détente by de-emphasizing wartime footing, a crucial agenda for the DPK designed to build upon Moon’s preference for enhancing inter-Korean dialogue, which is now showing signs of reversed fortunes due to Pyongyang’s recent missile tests. The PPP by contrast represents greater strategic clarity. Strong signals of support for the rules-based liberal international order, all but insinuating their stance towards Beijing, is the name of their game. This chimes well with the conservative reaches of South Korea being more skeptical in dealing with the DPRK. The PPP would also likely lean towards cooperation with the QUAD in order to shore up security partnerships in the region. Surprisingly, both parties hint at improving trilateral coordination with Japan and the US, although it is unclear how far this can go, given historical grievances and nationalist overlays.

In Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un’s new year address didn’t feature nuclear weapons, despite the DPRK having resumed strategic deployment and missile carrier testing. Kim’s address also struck unusual tones, in admitting various domestic and economic shortcomings, largely in part to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, recent weapons testing can be seen as a means to gauge Seoul’s election response, in part to give Kim a peak into what he might be dealing with post-election, and to signal that despite Covid-19, the regime in Pyongyang is still firmly committed to developing its deterrence posture. With expected provocations, Kim may well be an impetus for Seoul’s increased Northeast Asia cooperation with the US, which may inadvertently challenge China’s own security concerns with the US and its allies, particularly in regional security integration, as well as missile detection and defense technology.

Continuity for Canberra

With Canberra’s hardening stance over Beijing, both the ruling National-Coalition led by incumbent PM Scott Morrison and the Labour Party under Anthony Albanese have signaled their intent to maintain strategic continuity whatever the outcome of the Australian Federal Election this May. This is in large part due to an Australian consensus on China’s assertive posturing and growing concerns pertaining to Beijing’s regional aspirations in the Asia-Pacific, and taking the brunt of China’s displeasure over calls by Canberra for an independent Covid-19 investigation into its origin. Long lists of Australian goods were hit with informal trade restrictions as Beijing responded to what it saw as an anti-China stance. Here Beijing’s modus operandi appears to have been rooted in a Chinese proverb, “kill the chicken to scare the monkeys”, yet results have unmistakably backfired.

Canberra’s response has been to shore-up with likeminded partners. Although not exclusively security focused, the QUAD retains a key commitment and developing tool for strategic engagement here to promote a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific for like-minded states–which Beijing views as a potential precursor to a “Cold War-like” NATO alliance. AUKUS, which upstaged QUAD last year, although controversial, is designed to go further as a trilateral military technology accelerator. Equally, the agreement has received bipartisan support. At its core, Canberra evidently sees nuclear capability for the Royal Australian Navy submariner force as crucial in wake of the deteriorating security environment. However, providing this is a long-term strategy, expected to require decades of bipartisan continuity before a nuclear-powered submarine can be operationally delivered.

A more pressing geostrategic concern is Beijing’s developing influence projects in Pacific Islands states, which have come to surface, particularly over foreign aid spending and presence. Nevertheless, the Morrison administration appears to be lackluster in the face of climate issues. Here, Pacific Islands states name climate change as their primary concern, therefore mismatched preferences would require strategic modification in Canberra if Australia were keen to provide its own regional efforts.

Manila’s Fine Line between Washington and Beijing

Since President Duterte signaled his intent to abrogate the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a pillar of the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), a lot has changed. With US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s 2021 July visit, the Duterte administration made a dramatic U-turn, not only extending the VFA indefinitely but hammering out a Joint Vision Statement at the Bilateral Security Dialogue last November which reaffirmed the significance of the VFA and MDT. Now the rebound of Washington-Manila security relations appears to be threatened with the May 9th Presidential Elections, prompting efforts to employ gains as fait accompli for security ties with Washington no matter the election outcome.

Lingering questions concerning the reliability of the US security commitment to Manila is still a clear issue going into the elections, particularly in the wake of China’s growing capabilities in the South China Sea and influencing projects in the Philippines. Son of the former controversial President Marcos (1965-1986) and front runner Ferdinand Marcos Jr. currently leads the polls and has signaled intent to return to the earlier Duterte-esqe engagement policy with China. This not only threatens to undo the progress made last year, but represents a strategic headache for the US as the loss of Manila would present a significant geopolitical black hole in the island chain of allies and partners surrounding China.

Presidential candidate and current Vice President Leonor Robredo has called for engagement with Beijing in non-conflict areas. Specifically she noted, “For China, we will collaborate with them in the areas that we have no conflict, such as trade and investments, much like what Vietnam has been doing. But when it comes to the West Philippine Sea, we cannot deal with them without their recognition of the arbitral ruling”. However, this not only seems unfeasible due to obvious differences in Manila and Hanoi’s strategic circumstances vis-à-vis Washington, but also due to Beijing’s rejection of the arbitral ruling. With other Presidential candidates enjoying only marginal polling support, both Marcos Jr. and Robredo are a cause for concern for Washington.

Kishida’s Kokkai Elections

On July 25th 124 of the 245 seats in the House of Councilors of National Diet or Kokkai will face elections. Here, the ruling coalition retaining a majority would largely solidify PM Kishida’s position for the foreseeable future. Success largely rests upon his post-Covid-19 economic revitalization direction, of which a potential constitutional revision termed “New Capitalism” is central. Election victory, would allow his government to set out a sought after strategic vision, which is expected to push for a greater realization of a free Indo-Pacific alliance. Amid this, the desire for a New Security Strategy, National Defense Program Guidelines and the Mid-Term Defense Program were all signaled as goals for PM Kishida in the recent Japan-US Summit due to a shared understanding of the deteriorating regional security environment. Correspondingly, the summit re-signaled that Article V of the Japan-US Security Treaty applies to the Japan-China Senkaku/Diaoyu Island dispute, indicating Washington’s indirect security support for the dispute.

In order to bolster pre-election regional momentum, Kishida has indicated an intention to host a QUAD summit in Japan in the first half of 2022, although this is yet to be confirmed. Nevertheless, an electoral sticking point will be in how to approach Seoul. While the prospect of energizing Japanese-Korean-US trilateral cooperation retains a specter of optimism, a more nuanced nationalist reality remains an obstacle on the issues of comfort women and wartime labor akin to historical grievances. Concomitantly, the on-going Japan-South Korea trade war still requires a conclusion. For the US getting Japan and South Korea to work together under a trilateral framework would cement a Northeast Asia security flank, and would present a strategic breakthrough.

Whatever the election outcome, misconstrued remarks from officials in Tokyo concerning Japan’s policy towards the Taiwan Strait struck a chord in 2021. It was inaccurately suggested that Japan would commit to defending Taiwan, which would mark a major strategic shift for the region. Considering rising cross-strait tensions have come to overshadow East Asian security, and concerns over Beijing’s assertion that it reserves the right to use force on the issue, Tokyo is likely to remain intentionally vague, yet reaffirm 2005 calls for a peaceful resolution to cross-strait relations.

Potential Election Impacts

Conditions in which Washington can solely rely on regional partners to contain most threats in the region, supporting them with economic, diplomatic, and military aid, eliminating endemic free riding, still appear far-flung. A vicious cycle is at work here whereupon allies lack motivation to remedy their shortcomings. They know that Washington can pick up the slack and protect common interests with or without them, recognizing that if they do begin picking up the slack, they will likely incur Beijing’s ire with a certain prospect of economic retaliation, if not the loss of economic benefits. These circumstances are paired with the Biden administration’s ability, if not its culpability, in getting allies to step up and take on definable proactive responsibilities, and remedy capability deficiencies, upon which the Trump administration’s disruptions to the Trans-Pacific alliance structure engrave lingering concerns over US reliability. More pressing for Biden’s efforts are some allies and partners’ recent history of strategic ambiguity over China, wherein they are attempting to not take sides.

The 2022 election results may provide the inertia for closer strategic alignment. A requirement would be the need for Washington to knit together Asia-Pacific allies and partners’ strategies, as no single actor can manage China. This appears problematic for the regional security architecture under the hub-and-spokes system due to its bilateral nature, as it is based on providing bilateral security arrangements, and not designed that US partners in the Asia-Pacific can collectively balance against China. Another identifiable problem however, is hedging–cultivating a middle position that forestalls or avoids having to choose one side to offset risks at the obvious expense of the other–as a regional strategic culture. Hedging, by regional states, nevertheless serves to strengthen the security challenger, and undermines any attempt to restrain the challenger as local actors would forgo any heavy lifting–a result of the aforementioned vicious cycle. Yet, as systemic pressures from Sino-US relations intensify, and due to local actors’ heightening concerns towards Beijing, the space to hedge appears to be shrinking, opening the door for closer strategic alignments. Chinese bilateral trade and investment relations are increasingly securitized and there are greater prospects at strategic convergences with Washington, which are reflected in these elections. Here, Canberra and Tokyo represent states that can tack harder across the Pacific to Washington for their security post-elections, with Manila likely opting for another, if not limited, détente with China. Seoul’s neck-and-neck elections are too close to call, but a PPP victory may trigger a significant strategic transformation in Northeast Asia. While still picking up the pieces from Trump’s inexplicit illiberal foreign policy direction, Biden’s shaky foreign policy record, most prominently the Afghanistan debacle, will likely feature heavily in US midterms in November. Despite bipartisan consensus on competition with Beijing, Biden may opt to take a strong and more assertive stance on China.

Beijing too will be keen to gauge the shifting Asia-Pacific calculus, and more specifically the fungibility of China’s economic clout against the securitization of bilateral trade relations, and the wider reception of Sino-armament vis-à-vis, chiefly, territorial claims. This is of particular concern, as economic relations continue to spill over into political and security relations. China’s economic power has only proven disruptive to US regional supremacy, still limited in its ability to provide comprehensive regional leadership. A telling sign may well be that Beijing has pushed regional states too hard, whereas Washington has not pulled them hard enough. As such, re-alignments are looming in the region.

*Maximilian Ohle is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Germany. His research interests include China-Russia Relations, Hierarchy in International Relations and International Security in East Asia.

Richard J. Cook Ph.D. is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow of International Relations in the Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University, China. His research interests include China-U.S. Relations, Hierarchy in International Relations and International Security.

Continue Reading

Southeast Asia

Reclaiming our future



The Asia-Pacific region is at a crossroads today – to further breakdown or breakthrough to a greener, better, safer future.

Since the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) was established in 1947, the region has made extraordinary progress, emerging as a pacesetter of global economic growth that has lifted millions out of poverty.

Yet, as ESCAP celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, we find ourselves facing our biggest shared test on the back of cascading and overlapping impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, raging conflicts and the climate crisis.  

Few have escaped the effects of the pandemic, with 85 million people pushed back into extreme poverty, millions more losing their jobs or livelihoods, and a generation of children and young people missing precious time for education and training.

As the pandemic surges and ebbs across countries, the world continues to face the grim implications of failing to keep the temperature increase below 1.5°C – and of continuing to degrade the natural environment. Throughout 2021 and 2022, countries across Asia and the Pacific were again battered by a relentless sequence of natural disasters, with climate change increasing their frequency and intensity.

More recently, the rapidly evolving crisis in Ukraine will have wide-ranging socioeconomic impacts, with higher prices for fuel and food increasing food insecurity and hunger across the region.

Rapid economic growth in Asia and the Pacific has come at a heavy price, and the convergence of these three crises have exposed the fault lines in a very short time. Unfortunately, those hardest hit are those with the fewest resources to endure the hardship. This disproportionate pressure on the poor and most vulnerable is deepening and widening inequalities in both income and opportunities.

The situation is critical. Many communities are close to tipping points beyond which it will be impossible to recover. But it is not too late.

The region is dynamic and adaptable.

In this richer yet riskier world, we need more crisis-prepared policies to protect our most vulnerable populations and shift the Asia-Pacific region back on course to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as the target year of 2030 comes closer — our analysis shows that we are already 35 years behind and will only attain the Goals in 2065.

To do so, we must protect people and the planet, exploit digital opportunities, trade and invest together, raise financial resources and manage our debt.

The first task for governments must be to defend the most vulnerable groups – by strengthening health and universal social protection systems. At the same time, governments, civil society and the private sector should be acting to conserve our precious planet and mitigate and adapt to climate change while defending people from the devastation of natural disasters.

For many measures, governments can exploit technological innovations. Human activities are steadily becoming “digital by default.” To turn the digital divide into a digital dividend, governments should encourage more robust and extensive digital infrastructure and improve access along with the necessary education and training to enhance knowledge-intensive internet use.

Much of the investment for services will rely on sustainable economic growth, fueled by equitable international trade and foreign direct investment (FDI). The region is now the largest source and recipient of global FDI flows, which is especially important in a pandemic recovery environment of fiscal tightness.

While trade links have evolved into a complex noodle bowl of bilateral and regional agreements, there is ample scope to further lower trade and investment transaction costs through simplified procedures, digitalization and climate-smart strategies. Such changes are proving to be profitable business strategies. For example, full digital facilitation could cut average trade costs by more than 13 per cent.

Governments can create sufficient fiscal space to allow for greater investment in sustainable development. Additional financial resources can be raised through progressive tax reforms, innovative financing instruments and more effective debt management. Instruments such as green bonds or sustainability bonds, and arranging debt swaps for development, could have the highest impacts on inclusivity and sustainability.

Significant efforts need to be made to anticipate what lies ahead. In everything we do, we must listen to and work with both young and old, fostering intergenerational solidarity. And women must be at the centre of crisis-prepared policy action.

This week the Commission is expected to agree on a common agenda for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific, pinning the aspirations of the region on moving forward together by learning from and working with each other.

In the past seven-and-a-half decades, ESCAP has been a vital source of know-how and support for the governments and peoples of Asia and the Pacific. We remain ready to serve in the implementation of this common agenda.

To quote United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “the choices we make, or fail to make today, will shape our future. We will not have this chance again.”

Continue Reading

Southeast Asia

Return of the Marcos and Great-Power Competition



PNA photo by Joey O. Razon

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., more commonly known as “Bongbong,” won an outright majority in the recent presidential election in the Philippines. Son and name-bearer of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos paved the way for the country’s most notorious political dynasty’s shocking return to power. In the words of Filipino columnist Benjamin Pimentel, “It’s as if Kylo Ren emerged and the Empire is back in power.”

In announcing his desire to work for all people, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the world should judge him based on his presidency, not his family’s past.

“To those who voted for Bongbong, and those who did not, it is his promise to be a president for all Filipinos. To seek common ground across political divides, and to work together to unite the nation.” saidVictor Rodriguez, spokesperson for Marcos, in a statement.

However, the pragmatic words seem to have failed to sway the opposition as he faces countless accusations of election irregularities. Their opponents are horrified by Marcos’ brazen attempt to reinvent historical narratives from his family’s era in power. A protest against Marcos was staged by approximately 400 people outside the election commission on 10th May, primarily by students.

Human rights group Karapatan urged Filipinos to reject Marcos’ new presidency, which it sees as a product of lies and disinformation designed “to deodorise the Marcoses’ detestable image”.

HISTORY OF MARCOS: People Power” Uprising

Ferdinand Marcos Jr is not a new name in the Philippines’ political scenario. The “bloodless revolution” of 1986 in the Philippines that ousted the infamous dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was none other than Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s father.

The world leaders at the time praised the mass demonstration after hundreds of thousands marched along EDSA streets to protest a fraudulent election. Through the People Power” Uprising, Filipinos proved that a peaceful uprising can challenge a ruthless dictatorship and overthrow military rule.

Marcos Jr and his family escaped to Hawaii following the rebellion and after his return to the Philippines in 1991, Marcos Jr served in congress and the senate. With his return to the Malacañang Palace in 2022, the world anxiously watches whether history will repeat itself or democracy will prevail as Marcos Jr. relentlessly defends his father’s legacy, refusing to apologise or acknowledge the atrocities, plunder, cronyism, and extravagant living, which resulted in billions of dollars of state wealth disappearing during the dictatorship.

MARCOS JR’S FOREIGN POLICY: Continuity or Change?

Considering his political alignment with Rodrigo Duterte, the outgoing President, who has been exceedingly vocal about his anti-Washington, pro-China stance, it is no secret Marcos Jr. favours Beijing. According to Richard Heydarian, a South China Sea observer and professor of political science, “Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. is the only candidate who has signalled almost perfect continuity with the incumbent populist pro-China president in Malacañang.”

However, Marcos Jr seems to be a President that might play the game more strategically compared to his successor. Among Marcos’s many accolades for his father, one was maintaining a strong security alliance with Washington. Even though, he is politically aligned with Duterte who sought to pivot away from the United States and towards China, Marcos will seek a balancing act. Philippines under Marcos will continue engaging with China, in-line with Duterte’s Pro-China Policy but at the same time will engage, and even bolster a closer tie with the USA, to safeguard Philippines’ sovereignty amidst an aggressively rising China.

When asked if he would ask the American’s help in dealing with China, Marcos Jr said, “No. The problem is between China and us. If the Americans come in, it’s bound to fail because you are putting the two protagonists together.” This statement shows a sense of maturity and solid understanding of the ground realties of the region. Marcos Jr. seems to be the President that keeps his country’s national interest at the very core of all his decisions. He understands how easy it is for a small country to be stuck in the middle of a great-power competition, and that more often and not, it harms the small country’s interests. He envisions Manila as neither heavily dependent on Washington for its security needs nor become a pawn in China’s greater geopolitical ambitions. He wants to have an independent foreign policy, regardless of deepening U.S.-Chinese competition. One that predominantly benefits his country, Philippines.

In contrast to Duterte, Marcos Jr has a very warm and embracing approach towards the USA. Being treaty allies, Marcos Jr refers to their alliance as “a very important one.” He maintained that the alliance “has stood us in good stead for over a hundred years and that will never disappear from the Philippine psyche, the idea and the memory of what the United States did for us and fought with us in the last war.”

Marcos Jr seems to be a realist who understands that in International Politics, states must “engage whenever possible, and contain wherever necessary.” On asked about Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, he argued that “Philippines will not cede any one square inch to any country, particularly China, but will continue to engage and work on our national interest.”

To summarise, Marcos will, in all probability, modify Duterte’s foreign policy in a way that maximizes the strategic benefits for the Philippines and avoids confrontation with the USA and China.

Continue Reading

Southeast Asia

President Ho Chi Minh’s reflections about international peace



President Ho Chi Minh had a dissimilar way of approaching international peace, and he held a view that the way western nations look into revolution and resurgence, particularly in colonial era, was different from what the people aspired. He took note of developments in colonial societies particularly when Turkish women were protesting against the invasion of Western nations and imperialism, and referred to Indian women protests against British domination way back in 1912. In fact, writing way back in 1918, he stated that the defence of India act was the suppression of genuine domestic grievances because it provided the right to arrest and detain suspected Indians. He was always very supportive of the workers and peasants’ movement across the world.

While congratulating the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru on organising the Asian relations conference, he stated that China and India were the big brothers of Vietnam and the most ancient civilizations.  Writing way back in March 25th 1947, he opined that solidarity will make the three countries the mightiest defenders forwards peace and democracy. He argued that Vietnam was aspiring for unification and independence, and hoped that the Asian countries will come to their support. He stated that it is pertinent for the neighbours to have friendly relations, and alluding to the five principles (Panchsheela) of Nehru-Chau Enlai joint statement, he added that the five major principles which were enlisted in the joint statement between China and India, and Myanmar and China need to be replicated in the larger Asian context.

After the conclusion of the war with French in 1954, he clearly stated that the major challenges for Vietnam was proper implementation of the Geneva accords and sustaining the economy to upgrade the living standards of the people of Vietnam. Responding to a question asked by a journalist related to Geneva accords implementation in Vietnam, he stated that France being a major country and a colonial power, it is pertinent that the ceasefire agreement is implemented fully and this will ensure trust between the signatories. It is also important that scrupulousness in such kind of agreement so as to bring about peace and tranquillity.

He had time and again alluded to the five Panchsheela principles whenever he was giving any interview to the journalists and scholars. He clearly stated that there is need to respect sovereignty and territorial integrity, refrain from violation of each other’s territorial borders, non-interference in internal affairs, equal treatment for mutual benefits and peaceful coexistence. He opined that taking inspiration from India-China agreement, Vietnam would be willing to implement a similar kind of five principles with other countries, primarily Cambodia and Laos. Related to the illegal occupation of Goa by Portugal, he criticized the illegal occupation of Goa by Portuguese and the support that the US has provided to Portugal for continuing illegal occupation.

He talked about solidarity among Asian and African people and stated that for peace to exist the Geneva agreement should be implemented in full. After the first Indochina war, he stated that it is important that the peace as per the provisions of Panchsheela should be implemented at all levels. He has always alluded to Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi while talking about peace, clearly demarcating the role of culture and religion in maintaining peace. He was clearly against western imperialism and occupation of territories by force by any major power. He was also very clear and in one of the letters written on the eve of an interview given to New Delhi people in India, he clearly specified that the situation of world development particularly after the independence of many developing countries was beneficial for the peace movement. He stated that more than 1200 million Asian African people were in the line of peaceful forces and these people were liberated including those in erstwhile Soviet Union and other socialist countries. He lauded the role played by Asian African countries in peace protection and always supported fight against colonialism and Asian people’s solidarity. He was completely against military race, prohibition against nuclear weapons and hydrogen bomb, dismissing aggressive military forces and demolishment of military bases in foreign countries.

His views with regard to arms reduction and working together to reduce the scourge of nuclear bomb were very specific. While responding to the welcome address during the banquet dinner hosted by president of India Rajendra Prasad in 1958, he stated that “the pugnacious forces has been conspiring to push the mankind to the destruction of war. They are ceaselessly fighting to keep and consoled at peace, India made a big contribution. Peaceful forces are more powerful able to prevent the war but the pugnacious forces do not give up their conspiracy to wage their war.” He was really appreciative of any of the peace initiatives undertaken by any country and he has repeatedly thanked international committee which was chaired by India for supervising and controlling Geneva accord implementation in Vietnam.

President Ho Chi Minh was appreciative of the fact that the essence of Buddhism and culture would strengthen the spirit of love towards the country, national solidarity, and bring about cultural essence which will bring closer the eastern and western cultures. He stated that in terms of Buddhism the core philosophy is peace and the construction of the country.

President Ho Chi Minh was specifically influenced by Buddhism and he had stated that the people should practice the life of holy learning and Buddhist simplicity. Even though president Ho Chi Minh did not write and reflected about Buddhism but his life and career were intertwined with the core philosophy of Buddhism. He was very much interested in implementing the idea of peaceful humanity under Buddhism and ushering in Buddhist consciousness in every society. Ho Chi Minh had an idea that the human affection would help in self-improving human ethics and closer bonding with a larger population. Ho Chi Minh’s ideology included mercy, non-egoism, altruism, self-improvement, exercise of moral ethics, and solidarity spirit among masses. The acknowledgement of Buddhism as the core fundamental of life was slowly acknowledged by the Vietnamese people too and as per Ho Chi Minh, he had acquired the Buddhist ideas from family, national tradition, and the Buddhist way for liberating the country.

Taken into cognizance President Ho Chi Minh objective of peace, he was very much concerned with regard to ethics, solidarity, guaranteeing supreme benefits of the nation, bestowing rights and benefits to the people and ingrained self-consciousness which would bring about sincere affectionate, straightforward introspection. This will help in self-criticizing and unifying characters for the larger benefit of the society. He stated that the national solidarity should be in Sync with the international solidarity. In this context it is important to reflect on the Russia Ukraine crisis and he has been very instrumental in referring to Mahatma Gandhi for his approach towards peace and self-suffering. However, Ho Chi Minh was very attached to this concept of abhorrence of repression of the people and was very critical of any kind of imperialism which would subdue people from realising their ambitions and goals. Ukraine crisis also shows a new kind of geopolitics which will define the world order but he was also critical of the fact that international solidarity should be progressive and aspire for a long-lasting peace.

Continue Reading