Geopolitical Transposition in Asian Century


Parag Khanna in his book, ‘The Future is Asian’ hints towards the “Asianization of the Asian continent” in the 21st century. The thesis of the Khanna is tenable because, centuries of the colonial history of Asia is the reason that Asian identity was effaced but by the passage of time, the Asian identity is in its remaking and will congeal once the region will become integrated and connected. Matter of the fact is that in the process of globalization, many regional economies remained disconnected and underprivileged but now with this renewed wave of regional economic integration in Asia, the prospects of connectivity and economic stimulus are higher than ever.
Since the end of the cold war, there has been a surge in the process of reintegration in Asia. The people of the New Silk Road are rediscovering each other and becoming cognizant of their collective power, which comprises of more than 40 percent of the global economy. They also realize that effortless trading between the Asian economies is a prerequisite for the process of regionalization.
In the longer run, China envisages connecting the different regions and materializing the dream of a Greater Asian Union, specifically in economic realm. India, which looked towards East in the past, has now aligned itself with the West; however, Western powers are using India as a counterweight against China to contain it and stall its emergence as the dominant power. On the other hand, in response to the Indo-US alliance and India looking west for its defence procurement impelled Russia to look join hands with Pakistan. In times when China is extending support to Pakistan and Russia through economic corridors and military partnerships, it was a poor choice by Indian decision-makers to put all eggs in the American basket. If India thought of Japan, South Korea and Vietnam extending help on a call from the USA, then its optimism goes pear-shaped. Despite the fact that this regional reconfiguration, especially India’s affection with the US, was a natural response to the rise of China and a basic motivation to knock-off the rise of a hegemon, India did not foresee the formation of a troika of nuclear powers in the region in response to its US bandwagon strategy. This is far bigger threat that India has ever perceived but in actual it is an acrimonious result of balancing and counterbalancing of nation-states.
In the context of South Asia, external forces like the US and China have had a significant role to play in the politics of the region. With the creation of power blocs, the region embarked on an evolutionary ride, changing its political and economic blueprints. Even tough China and the US have been deliberately undermining each other’s position along with their cliques but the struggle for regional hegemony and counter balancing between South Asian powers has overshadowed other important concerns such as violence, analphabetism, inequality, insurgency, drug trafficking and the proliferation of weapons.
Today, on the one hand, China – Russia – Pakistan are possible triple partners while on the other hand, the US – India together with their near acquaintances lead to a new South Asian order. The US has reoriented its foreign policy towards the region since Obama administration and the country has worked proactively with India –the key South Asian force. The geopolitical experts anticipated these regional alignments but the militarization and Nuclearization of Indian Ocean was not, which is posing a nuclear quandary for Pakistan. Militarization in the Indian Ocean by China is justified as safeguards to the country’s economic interests whereas it is perceived as an attempt to project its power on region and beyond by the US and India. India’s perception that this is a hegemonic pursuit of China expedites military build-up (IRBMs and SLBMs) –posing existential threat to Pakistan in this balancing. In addition, India’s nuclear submarines complete the nuclear trident of deterrence and presence of Indian aircraft carriers along coastal borders of Pakistan further complicates the strategic balance of the region.
The indo-pacific policy of the US is a mere expedition of finding economic and military influencer in the region, and in turn, it is in line with Indian desire to rebuild its military power. However, India overlooked the maxim that an enemy which is also an enemy to another actor makes both friends and in case of China which is perceived as a competitor by India at the regional level and by the United States at the system level, brings both the US and India in an obvious alliance to achieve the common objective. Pakistan, in this case, remained allied with its iron-brother China due to its robust economic and defence ties with the emerging super power.
History is evident that the titivating alliance formations, similar to the one going on in Asia, is a natural response to the hegemonic feat of one actor but one must also learn a lesson from history that such scenarios breed hostilities and yield disorder.

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