This is probably one of the most difficult and most important situations that the US has to confront with the Asia Rebalance. We have to be able to get beyond our western bias and understand the history and culture of the nations in the region if we are going to be able to develop effective policy and strategy.
The Ally of My Ally
Asia’s divided democracies.
Joseph A. Bosco
January 21, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 18
Asia’s democracies need to get their acts together to address a common danger from the region’s authoritarian/totalitarian powers. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan face rising challenges from China and/or North Korea. All have security arrangements with the United States to deter or confront those threats.
Yet territorial claims and historical grievances frequently align those democratic states more with China’s positions than with each other’s, producing the paradoxical perception among them that the ally of my ally is my adversary. While American presidential candidates were vowing to get tough with China, Asian politicians pledged to stand up to their freedom-loving neighbors.
China is happy to stoke the divisions among America’s friends and allies, constraining U.S. diplomacy and complicating its regional security planning.
China and Taiwan vs. Japan: Japan controls the Senkaku Islands (claimed as the Diaoyu by China and the Diaoyutai by Taiwan). Washington takes no position on the merits of the three countries’ claims but includes the islands under the U.S.-Japan security umbrella. China sees that as provocative U.S. meddling on Japan’s side of the dispute.
In August, Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, proposed an East China Sea Peace Initiative involving trilateral negotiations, shared resources, and a seagoing code of conduct. China is willing to share resources, at least initially, but unwilling to treat Taiwan as an equal negotiating partner rather than as a province of China.
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