The United States is making tireless efforts to maintain its Status Quo and it considers China a challenger and a threat to its global leadership position. In 2010, it noticed the rise of China and gave a regional policy “Pivot to Asia”, then it pursued the Indo-Pacific strategy and now it has been reawakening multi-lateral relationships with its alliances and is persuading the US-Australia-India-Japan security alliance-QUAD, as the upcoming military coalition in Asia in order to contain China. All these initiatives have increased tensions in the Indo-Pacific Region (IPR).
China’s growing influence in Indo-Pacific Region:
China is tremendously increasing its defense spending, rapidly modernizing its naval forces, establishing artificial islands, and declaring its claims to islands in the ECS and SCS. In the IOR, it is increasing both its sway and power projection. In addition, it is encircling the coastline of India and courting its neighbors with promises of connectivity and economic prosperity. The rise of China is endangering the position of the USA and its growing influence in IOR has resulted in Sino-Indian Rivalry, which is taking the form of a “Security Dilemma”.
The US wants to include ASEAN Nations in QUAD. This would be a sort of an Asian NATO, to counter the rise of China. As a result, Chinese flare-ups in the South China Sea and border skirmishes with India have fostered a fear of Chinese hegemony.
A far-fetched idea?
It is still a pipe dream to envision the fully operational Military Alliance of the quad in Asia.
- To put it simply, Asia is not ready for a NATO-like containment bloc against China. The support of ASEAN states is necessary for the establishment of a successful Asian NATO due to their strategic position. Despite the fact that the ASEAN countries support US military presence to counterbalance China, they find it back-breaking to avoid the economic opportunities that China has offered. Most of the ASEAN nations count on China for much of their imports.
- Another factor is the apparent lack of cooperation among several regional partners. Like Japan and South Korea, neither China’s rise nor North Korea’s threat has prompted them to cooperate.
- The members of the QUAD may be hesitant to embrace military cooperation due to concerns about upsetting their economic connections with a significant trading partner. China is Australia’s largest export market ($136.28 billion), and a direct conflict with China will have a negative impact on its exports.
In a similar vein, despite their strategic and long-standing competition, Japan is China’s third-largest trading partner and has an investment of $124 billion in China.
China is showing itself as a liable global power it wouldn’t want to see the rise of an Asian NATO, endangering its emergence. Therefore, It has so kept in touch closely with the ASEAN member states.
In a nutshell, the current environment does not favor the transformation of QUAD into a military alliance. It is doubtful that an Asian NATO will be formed because of the ASEAN countries’ economic dependence on China and the conflicting interests of the members of QUAD. Despite US efforts, China’s rise cannot be stopped because of its tremendously grown influence and it’ll grow further in the future. As a result of the efforts of both the US and China, the IPR would become the next theater of war between major powers.
Virda Azam is a student of International Relations at the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad.