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Indo Pacific strategy

Discussion in 'Geostrategic Issues' started by spoz, Feb 10, 2019.

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  1. foxdemon

    foxdemon Member

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    I have started this thread for discussion of all issues pertaining to strategy and geopolitics in the Far East, especially with a maritime focus.

    Currently, there is a major history shift in geopolitical power underway. For the last 70 years or so, global commerce via sea routes, and thus the global economy, has been able to thrive due to the US navy’s command of the world’s oceans. This is changing today as a wealthy China builds the navy strength to rival American naval strength. What will be the consequences of this challenge to American maritime hegemony?

    One response has been an attempt at forming an alliance to balance growing Chinese influence, known as the Quad. This group includes the US, Japan, India and Australia. This is not a formal alliance in the tradition of NATO, as each of the participants has different goals. How relevant is it in Asia’s security architecture?

    From the Chinese point of view, have they done anything wrong? They argue that if America can aspire to be a great power, why can’t they? Were the Athenians correct in their speech to the Melians, as reported by Thucydides: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”?

    There also appears to be increasing interest from European countries to get involved in the balance of power in the region. This includes Russia, the UK, as well as continental powers. Is this to gain world influence or to market weapons?

    Finally, there is a growing arms race among many regional countries, enabled by greater prosperity and concerns about Chinese intentions. Where will this lead?
     
  2. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    @foxdemon Thanks for starting this thread. I've moved most of the appropriate posts across from the RAN thread to this one.

    NM.
     
  3. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    There is no direct quote but rather a growing number of factors. After almost 20 years of fighting the war on terror there is the fatigue factor. There is also the cost. The war on terror has cost several trillion dollars with the US debt soaring to 22 trillion. With Democrats now controlling the House of Representives, new foreign deployments will face funding challenges from the House. There is the Trump factor. Won’t bother with this because it is an unknown. With regards to the SCS, currently the political will is probably present for now. This is likely because any lack of resolve at this point will be a political liability. Losing SLOC in the SCS would create huge problems for a more serious future confrontation with China. Should China ever be successful in gaining complete control of the SCS, the return to status quo would be extremely difficult. A few years down the road, US decision makers will have to weigh the effect of Chinese sovereignty over the SCS and the effects on its Asia-Pacific partners versus a direct military confrontation with China and all the negative consequences that entails. All the while the US must still consider what Putin will be up to.
     
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  4. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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  5. StingrayOZ

    StingrayOZ Well-Known Member

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    There is a difference between soft power action and hard power action. Bhutan has arguably an easier relationship with India, than India has with Nepal, and the internal politics in Nepal are very complicated. Nepal now has a deal to access Chinese ports for example and seems to be drifting much closer to China. Obviously India didn't help matters by blocking access back in 2015...
    Nepal gets access to China ports, analysts say it's a 'huge deal'

    There are still issues with the quad as an entity, while Americans (and others) envisage a NATO type relationship, it is clear it will never ever be that. India is still a non-aligned nation, the Quad doesn't change that, and there are other issues. Specifically India and Australia. Also even NATO doesn't work as some expect it to, as it doesn't do expeditionary capability very well. It has also fractured notably with Turkey. Japan also isn't exactly well setup for expeditious operations outside of its immediate territory, although that is slowly changing. The quad isn't SEATO II, it isn't even as cohesive as SEATO was. The Japanese don't see it that way, it was more about four nations with a common concern. India's big contribution to the Quad, I believe is not military.

    I don't think there is a realistic questioning of American military might. But even the Americans have limitations, and there is a limit to the number of places they can be at the same time. There is also the far bigger concern of American political commitment.

    America struggles when choosing priorities and prioritising allies. It also struggles with long term focus on international issues. These have always been issues, for over a hundred years. But now there is a power that is of a simular economic size and is interested in challenging norms.
     
  6. seaspear

    seaspear Member

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    There are also economic considerations in this discussion ,China's rise in military spending has closely followed its gdp at around two percent over a number of years ,if its military buildup has been sudden its really followed its growing economy ,that its economy is slowing recently may effect its own military buildup certainly Russia which had its defence spending over fifteen percent recently has cut back due to falling oil prices and trade restrictions as a result of its activities elsewhere , America and China are in trade discussions its a pity they were not linked into the P.L.A.N.,S seizing of islands and the imprisonment of a sizable number of people for their religious beliefs , how quickly people forget concentration camps
     
  7. Ananda

    Ananda Well-Known Member

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    Is it China really only put 2% of it's GDP in defence ? I mean officially it is..but is the budget also include all the research for dual purpose tech that being used later on developing their new weapons ?
    Is the budget for developing the infrastructure on the SCE artificial islands also from defense budget ?

    What I'm getting at, China budget is not as transparent as Western standard. For that I do have a doubt on how much really China spend on defence related development. Read somewhere on one Investment Bank assessment (forgot if it's Merrill or Citi)..that speculate that China defense related spend (based on Western standard) actually close to 7-8,% of their GDP. This includes all defense research, infrastructure support that many considered as part of 'civilian' useage under Chinese budget standard.

    However it's off course related to their Economy development..
     
  8. seaspear

    seaspear Member

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    Other figures can be also sourced from the World bank and Rand place it close to the two percent mark , but to also give an idea of China's rise in defence spending in 2003 its defence budget was comparable to the U.K,s and Japan at 38 billion dollars and it justified this for increased spending those comparisons ,it has stopped using those comparisons now in 2015 it reached 146 billion dollars the Uk was on 56.2 billion dollars
    On the flip side so to speak the budget for the U.S nuclear weapons comes out of the department of energy
    What is also hard to calculate is the value of information acquired through theft or hacking through universities or major defense companies that has enabled reverse engineering .
     
  9. Stampede

    Stampede Active Member

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    Regardless of how much China's budget for defence is, the reality is they are building a lot of stuff.
    I know the maths is important, but the true reality is their rapid growth in modern military hardware and the political attitude that has foster this development.
    Their defence budget may not be transparent but their resolve to be a bigger player in the world is unambiguous.
    A country on the march.

    One to watch.


    Regards S
     
  10. Ananda

    Ananda Well-Known Member

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    Yes they are on the March..my comment related more on the presumption that they only spend 2% of their GDP on defense related development.
    What I'm getting at..all those development doubtful come from only 2% of their GDP. In sense if their defense related development actually 3-4 times of officiall figures..as some suspected..then they are actually close to limit on one nation can comfortably spend on defence related spending (during non War condition)..unless you want to begin sacrifice other economic sectors..which China has to maintain on their current path..

    Off course it's still big..still second only on defense spending after US..but again does not mean unlimited growth..
     
  11. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    Another consideration is what counts as an actual defence expenditure towards the 2% of GDP. Canada recently added in veterans pension costs and other government expenses that are used by DND, e.g. IT, Health Care. etc. Supposedly other EU members so this and this is why our spending looks better. I assume salaries count so this makes comparisons more problematic as does actual costs to develop sophisticated weapons. Given the US and China have some comparable missiles, how much did each country pay to produce 500? Do published GDP percentages normalalize these differences? Of course the biggest unknown is the data certain countries offer out as defence expenditures. China might deflate their numbers, others inflate them ( think junior).
     
  12. Stampede

    Stampede Active Member

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    Interesting observation and if true, suggests they are not with out their own domestic challenges versus their international aspirations.
    Hopefully the benefits of international trade and mutual cooperation will lead to a peaceful future and the region can step back a bit from an arms build up; but at this stage mutual suspicions are fostering an increase in this military momentum.

    Challenges all round.

    Regards S
     
  13. foxdemon

    foxdemon Member

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    A recent development is the reengagement of the RN in the Far East.

    US and British conduct training in South China Sea

    The British, having centuries of experience with facing down hegemonic powers, are able to recognise an existential challenge when they see it. But the RN is a shadow of it’s former self. Setting an example of courage and principle might be all they are capable of in this day and age.
     
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  14. seaspear

    seaspear Member

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  15. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    It's difficult to say and really depends upon who's tea leaves you read to a certain degree. The real problem is we don't know how tight the grip Xi has on the CMC, Politburo, the PLA and the security organs within the PRC. So far he has managed to have General Secretary of the Party term limits abolished, has developed a cult of personality around himself, has created Central Leading Groups, with himself at the head, in order to bypass the Party and govt bureaucracy. So that speaks to his grip on power so far and if he has been, and is, doing an Uncle Joe (Stalin) in removing any and all opposition, then he will be there until he falls off his perch (dies). He is, I believe, a Maoist, so we could be looking at a return to the days of Mao with an almost rabid anti western ideological and hostile swing alongside a return to active proselytising of the Maoist religion within the SEA region and beyond. Whilst Mao was somewhat touched in the head during the latter part of his life, Xi appears to be the exact opposite and that IMHO, makes him a far more dangerous man.

    I came across this the other day: A Great Shift Unseen Over the Last Forty Years It is an unauthorised English translation of a recent speech by respected Chinese economist Professor Xiang Songzuo. It was quickly taken down by the Chinese censors. So some questions have to be asked. Is the report reliable? I do not know and I don't have access to the original, so this is definitely secondary source material that has to be treated with caution. Secondly, is the data that the Professor citing valid, accurate and reliable? Again we don't know his sources of data. Thirdly, given the political situation within China, what would be the Professors reasoning for presenting such a paper, considering that the party would take a very dim view of it and he could be in personal danger? Again we don't know, hence whilst very intriguing, I would have to treat its reliability with some caution.

    Having said that, if we take the paper and translation at face value, then the PRC is in deep economic trouble, which will create problems on the domestic front. With the economic problems worsening at home, Xi will most likely adopt the time honoured tactic of distracting the population by fomenting more trouble and creating enemies abroad; foreign barbarians who want to sack and desecrate the Middle Kingdom. He will most likely do an Uncle Joe and crack down at home as well, tightening the screws. Money will be diverted from social budgets to military and security budgets. One important thing to remember as well; the PLA - all of it (army, navy, air force, rocket forces, everything) belong to the Party not the State and swears allegiance to the Party, not the State. I think that the security forces are the same too.
     
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  16. SolarWind

    SolarWind Member

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    How much is China getting out of its military investments is a very interesting question. According to the World Economic Forum, China is already the largest world economy in terms of Purchasing Power Parity:
    The world’s top economy: the US vs China in five charts
    From the article, Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is a measure that adjusts countries’ GDPs for differences in prices.

    According to the World Bank,
    GDP, PPP (current international $) | Data
    China's GDP in terms of PPP in 2017 was 23.3 trillion international USD, whereas US GDP in terms of PPP in 2017 was 19.4 trillion international USD. The latter number is of course equal to US GDP in 2017 in USD, because PPP is normalized in terms of USD.

    From this, it can be taken that China's 2% of GDP, or its military spending according to this forum, works out to be equivalent to about 466 billion USD if it had been spent in the US. Even though Chinese military technology is inferior to that of US, the punch of Chinese military budget is much greater than many might suspect.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
  17. foxdemon

    foxdemon Member

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    It seems China has made a power play to control Djibouti, once more disregarding legal rulings not in their favour.

    The US Needs a Real Plan to Counter China in Africa

    Congress is telling the US military to find somewhere else. Can America ignore legal rulings against China forever? If so, what worth are international rules?
     
  18. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    When we look at HARD data from the Indo-Pacific, the rise of local players is the story and not just of China. The rise of the Indians, the South Koreans and ASEAN is the story. The South Korean Navy, for example will be a growing naval power to watch. There are many more that I am too lazy to list, including the Japanese who have an existing naval capability that UK cannot hope to match.

    I am grateful to UK for all they have done in the past but hard power and demographics matter to Asians.

    I am unimpressed - UK’s commitment to FPDA is so limited, compared to Australia’s commitment - over the last 20 to 30 years, after UK’s pull back from the East of Suez. In January 1968, UK Prime Minister announced that British troops would be withdrawn in 1971 from major military bases in South East Asia, "east of Aden", which is when the phrase "East of Suez" entered the vernacular.

    Today, Asia has radically decoupled from UK. Hong Kong was returned to China by the UK. In geo-strategic terms, UK has nothing to lose any more. Until the 1980s, UK was invested in Brunei’s success (but not any more). More importantly, tiny Brunei does not look towards UK any more.

    After Brexit, UK will be a shadow of itself - not just in money terms. The stupidity of their current generation of political leaders is stunning - stupidity is incurable. The UK’s navy is a shadow of its former self, and never will it regain their 1980s capability. If shooting occurs, the loss of 1 UK ship may result in an incredible lack of political spine. I am happy that the US encourages UK participation but would not take it at more than face value.

    Deserves a pat on the head but UK leadership is not welcome in the corridors of power in Asia. If there is a natural disaster, Asians will be happy to take money and charity but they are not looking at really including UK in their forums as a trusted partner.
     
  19. t68

    t68 Well-Known Member

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    yes your correct, but from my view point the Sth Koreans, Japan are very much allied with the US. As for the Indians not so much they like playing on both sides of the fence so to speak.


    Agree, the UK will have burnt a lot of bridges once the fall out of Brexit happens irrespective if the remain in the EU or not




    That's an interesting view, I'm interested in a greater insight in this, but most in Australia do not view us as part of Asia either but realise Asia is part and parcel of our domestic security
     
  20. ASSAIL

    ASSAIL Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    I would challenge that view. Most of those who matter, strategists, politicians, ADF and economists all regard Australia as part of Asia with our future economic and cultural development firmly tied to her.

    I’m sure that there are many citizens who might see it differently but they are balanced by those with a different view and both are of small consequence to international relationships where economic and socicial pragmatists prevail.