The key factors that could derail Asia’s steady economic growth are a territoriality aggressive China, North Korea’s nuclear hostility and a chaotic White House under President Donald Trump.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in a new Project Syndicate editorial that the continent largely owes its massive economic ascent to the lack of major military conflict across borders.
But Hass said that the factors that contributed to peace and stability in Asia “are now coming under increasing pressure.” He added that the strategic situation that has facilitated Asia’s economic miracle is being jeopardized by that.
Haas pointed out that Asia hasn’t witnessed a major war since the end of the Vietnam War in the mid-1970s, unlike Europe or Latin America.
Haas said that “partly because no country has wanted to jeopardize economic growth by initiating a conflict”, territorial claims have never escalated into war even though ranging from Russia and Japan’s post World War II island dispute too current South China Sea tensions, they have always dogged the region.
decades of stability is also explained by Asia’s demographics.
“Most Asian countries host relatively homogeneous societies with strong national identities, the chance of civil conflicts erupting and spilling over national borders is relatively low,” Haas said.
Has continued that decades of a deep-rooted U.S. military presence reduced the need for Asian countries to develop large military programs of their own, “and reinforced a status quo that discourages armed adventurism”.
However, Asian economic prosperity is threatened and the seeds of conflict is threaned ot be sowed by recent developments.
Haas stated that particularly worrisome was Chinese demonstrations of sovereignty, part of President Xi Jungping’s strategy to make his country a global superpower.
“As China adopts an increasingly assertive foreign policy — exemplified by its border dispute with India and territorial claims in the South China sea — other countries are increasingly motivated to boost their own military spending. As that happens, it becomes more likely that a disagreement or incident will escalate into a conflict,” he wrote.
Haas continued that aren’t helping either are tirades against U.S. allies on defense spending and Trump’s retreat from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “The growing unpredictability of U.S. foreign policy could weaken deterrence and prompt allies to take their security into their own hands.”
Also exacerbated the region’s political outlook is the heated rhetoric between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as the latter considers striking Guam.
“Just the threat of such a strike could be destabilizing, if it drives concerned U.S. allies such as South Korea and Japan to increase their military spending and reconsider their non-nuclear postures,” Haas noted
(Adapted from CNBC)