Revamped US-Japan military alliance spells trouble for China
The rise of militarised Japan with US backing. India standing up against PLA belligerence in East Ladakh and US ally Australia deepening military ties with both Tokyo and New Delhi has changed the Asian security paradigm.
Since the 1962 war, China assiduously cultivated ties with India’s neighbours barring Bhutan to encircle the world’s largest democracy and use them to inhibit New Delhi’s legitimate global role. China’s client state Pakistan and Sri Lanka under the Rajapaksa regime tried to undermine India through cross-border terrorism and allowing Beijing to virtually set up a naval base in Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in restive Balochistan. China’s close relations with Communist Nepal, Myanmar and Khaleda Zia’s BNP in Bangladesh ensured that India was bogged down with neighbours while Beijing played the grand stage. This Dragon play is now staring at China with all the client states reeling in severe economic crisis and its age-old adversary Japan rapidly rising in the East along with the QUAD grouping.
By reaffirming that article V of the Japan-US security treaty applies to China contested Senkaku Islands and bolstering the US military presence in Okinawa’s Yonaguni Islands, just 120 km from Taiwan, Tokyo and Washington have sent a huge signal to Beijing. The joint statement released after US-Japan two-plus-two dialogue in Washington this morning makes it quite evident that China will have to militarily factor Tokyo in its belligerent spree against India, Taiwan and Australia. Clearly, Japan has thrown its post-World War II pacifism into the Sea of Japan and has revised its national security doctrine by identifying China as the greatest strategic challenge. Just as the Indian Army carries the legacy of 1962 war on its shoulders, China carries a similar past with the Imperial Japan Army in the early 19th century.
The Asian security paradigm has now changed as China has a close ally in Russia, while Beijing faces counter-pressure from Japan to Philippines to Australia to India or what could be loosely defined as counter-encirclement. Unlike the past decades when Japan had invested billions of dollars into China, the scenario has now changed much to the chagrin of President Xi Jinping as Japan has gone back to its past ally, the US. “ Facing a severely contested environment….the forward posture of US forces in Japan should be upgraded….by positioning more versatile, resilient, and mobile forces with increased intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, anti-ship, and transportation capabilities, " the joint statement stated.
The joint statement also recalled the July 12, 2016 award in the South China Sea arbitration that went in favour of the Philippines but was rejected by China. Apart from stating their basic positions on Taiwan, the two-plus-two statement expressed serious concerns over the autonomy of Hong Kong and human rights violations against the Uighur Sunni Muslim community in Xinjiang.
Just as Japan has accepted to meet the Chinese challenge, India has also stood up to PLA belligerence in East Ladakh with Army Chief General Manoj Pande today stating that no less than 55000 troops and 400 guns were deployed to counter the PLA challenge along the 1597 km boundary in Ladakh.
Both India and Japan have strengthened ties with Australia and the Philippines with Canberra covered by the US security pact and Manila continuing to be a close ally of Washington. Plot these economically advanced countries on the map and one sees that Beijing caught in the strategic trap it laid for its adversaries.