08 September 2016
As President Barack Obama makes his final tour of Asia, much of the focus has been on the United States’ pivot or re-balance of its economic, diplomatic and military interests to the region.
The United States, however, is not the only country that is pivoting to Southeast Asia and trying to build influence. Japan and Russia are taking big steps to up their presence in the region.
Over the past three years, Japan has put more investment into countries who are part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations than it has put into China and Hong Kong. And steadily it is looking for ways to move beyond developmental assistance to massive infrastructure projects much like Beijing is already doing in the region.
… As more nations compete for influence, that inevitably is creating tensions.
Conflicting and cross-cutting purposes is really what defines Asia these days, said Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
“Everybody is a ‘frenemy’ so to speak,” Bitzinger said.
“There are a lot of places where two countries: Russia, China; China, the United States; find lots of opportunities and common interests that make them want to cooperate… At the same time there are a lot of places where they collide and compete,” he said.
North Korea is an area where Russia, Japan, China and the United States can find room to work together, but when it comes to the East or South China Sea, interests are more divided, Bitzinger said.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 13/09/2016