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Global Impact: Asian nations take up defensive positions as Blinken’s Beijing visit falls short of cooling US-China tensions

During the still ongoing Philippines-US Balikatan joint military exercises, both sides fired a dozen rockets in the direction of the South China Sea to answer what they see as Beijing’s growing aggression in the disputed waterway.
India also delivered its first batch of supersonic cruise missiles to the Philippines, a move seen as a means to counterbalance growing Chinese influence in Southeast Asia, and an attempt by New Delhi to establish itself as a security partner for the region.


US, Japan hail upgraded ties, unveil raft of bilateral deals following Biden-Kishida summit

US, Japan hail upgraded ties, unveil raft of bilateral deals following Biden-Kishida summit

With Beijing looking to expand its sphere of influence into the Pacific, Japan’s coastguard extended an initiative designed to help other regional countries counter China’s maritime presence near two Pacific island nations: the Marshall Islands and Micronesia.
On the Aukus defence deal – an agreement initially made between the US, Britain and Australia – first Japan and New Zealand, and now South Korea have expressed interest in joining the bloc’s second pillar aimed at sharing military technology, drawing consternation from China.
Singapore has chimed in by stating that the island state would be willing to host a future visit by nuclear-powered submarines produced under the Aukus alliance, widely seen as a bloc to counter Chinese influence.
However, in an attempt to defuse tensions, South Korea’s Minister of National Defence Shin Won-sik downplayed his country’s resolve to intervene in the event of a Taiwan crisis, arguing that Seoul’s focus should be on preventing North Korean “provocations”.
Neighbouring Cambodia, arguably China’s most loyal partner in the region, agreed during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that the two countries should speed up and finalise the long-awaited code of conduct in the South China Sea.

60-Second Catch-up

Deep dives

Ullustration: Brian Wang

Are US-China relations destined to end up as a ‘new cold war’?

  • Antony Blinken is the latest senior US official to visit China, but some analysts believe Washington needs to set out a clear vision for future relations

  • Although both sides may wish to avoid outright conflict, there are profound differences and a lack of trust that will be very difficult to overcome

Ties between the United States and China are on a “long trajectory of decline” despite recent efforts to stabilise the relationship, according to diplomatic observers who point to the deep mistrust that remains between the two sides.

With some describing the situation as a “new cold war”, there are growing calls within Washington for the US to formulate a clearer policy on how it wishes to engage with China.

Photo: AFP

US-led alliance adds to Beijing’s challenges in East and South China Seas

  • Beijing’s latest confrontations with Tokyo and Manila over contested islands come as they strengthen maritime coalition with Washington

  • Analyst says tensions in Taiwan Strait, East China Sea and South China Sea are linked as US tries to rally its partners in Indo-Pacific

In just three days, China has been locked in maritime confrontations with two of its neighbours.

In the South China Sea, tensions have flared again between China and the Philippines over contested reefs, while in the East China Sea, Beijing’s dispute with Tokyo over a set of islands resurfaced with a visit by a group of Japanese lawmakers.

Photo: AFP

Aukus not an ‘Asian Nato’ but expansion could complicate China’s regional plans

  • Buildout of Indo-Pacific cooperation pact could leave China more isolated facing more complex network of potential adversaries

  • But it is premature to add more member states to ‘new group’ that has barely started, analyst says

The potential expansion of Aukus may increase defence pressure on China as it faces ever more cutting-edge defence technology, including hypersonic weapons, but Beijing could expect little in the way of substantive changes in power dynamics in the near term.
On Wednesday, as he met Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House, US President Joe Biden said Aukus was “exploring” ways to cooperate with Japan in hi-tech defence capabilities, while the two countries would continue to “respond to challenges concerning China through close coordination”.
Photo: AP

‘Natural’ for Japan to play larger Aukus role, but likely not as partner

  • Japan’s ties with Australia and Aukus has grown amid tensions with China, but ‘complexities’ in the sharing of nuclear information means a ‘Jaukus’ bloc is unlikely

  • Still, there are opportunities for Japan to cooperate with Australia, the UK and US on areas ‘beyond the first pillar’, including on AI and hypersonic missiles, analysts say

Australia’s defence minister has said Canberra is keen for Tokyo to play a larger role in the development of defence technology under the Aukus security partnership, but he stopped short of suggesting Japan should join a pact that presently brings together Australia, Britain and the United States.

The latest comments by Richard Marles could mark disappointment for Tokyo, given that Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso on a trip to Canberra last November had proposed that Japan be added to the grouping to form “Jaukus”, and counter a “long marathon” posed by China’s security threat.
Photo: AFP

Pro-Duterte coalition slams Manila’s involvement in US ‘proxy war’ with China

  • Coalition led by supporters of former president Duterte launch campaign against the Philippines’ growing military alliance with the US

  • Their manifesto criticises President Marcos Jnr’s South China Sea stance, claims China’s aggressive actions justified by his provocations

Supporters of former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte have formed a coalition opposing the country’s growing alliance with the United States in its conflicts with China, which they warn is becoming a “proxy war” that could turn their nation into “the Ukraine of Asia”.

At the end of the launch event for the Citizens’ Coalition Against War in Manila on Wednesday, the group released a petition calling for signatures supporting an end to the proxy war as well as a manifesto criticising the government’s position on the Second Thomas Shoal, a highly contested maritime landmark in the South China Sea that the Philippine refers to as Ayungin and Beijing calls Ren’ai Jiao.

Photo: US Army

‘A message for China’: US’ new missile launchers in Asia a ‘warning’ to Beijing

  • Chinese foreign ministry says China does not compete with other nations in military power and ‘firmly pursues a defensive national defence policy’

  • South Korean expert deems putting another party within range of a weapons system ‘both a military threat and a warning to the adversary’

Washington’s deployment of ground-based launchers for its medium-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region for the first time in nearly four decades is a “warning” to Beijing against military advancement and a conflict across the Taiwan Strait, according to analysts.
During a visit to South Korea on Saturday, General Charles Flynn, the US Army Pacific commander, said the army would soon deploy a new missile launch system that could fire its latest “long-range precision fires”, such as the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) interceptor and the maritime-strike Tomahawk, in the Asia-Pacific.
Photo: Reuters

‘That’s their problem’: US-Manila sea drills likely to provoke Beijing

  • Philippines and United States armed forces will hold the 2024 Balikatan joint military exercises from April 22-May 8

  • This year’s edition of the annual drills will take place in areas outside Philippine territory along the outer edge of South China Sea’s waters

Treaty allies the Philippines and United States will flex their muscles later this month at this year’s Balikatan joint military exercises that take place in waters outside Philippine territory along the outer edge of South China Sea’s waters, which analysts predict will almost certainly provoke Beijing.

The April 22 to May 8 drills involve some 16,000 soldiers and showcase Manila’s new Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept (CADC), a strategy that aims to defend the country’s exclusive economic zone.

Global Impact is a weekly curated newsletter featuring a news topic originating in China with a significant macro impact for our newsreaders around the world.


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