Asia-Pacific Policy Rebalance

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TOPICS IN THE ARTICLE
Trans-Pacific Partnership:
1. The 2005 Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP or P4 or TPP) is a trade agreement among Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore. Its purported aims are to further liberalise the economies of the Asia-Pacific region.
2. Location is in Wellington, New Zealand.
3. Since 2010, negotiations have been taking place for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposal for a significantly expanded version of TPSEP. The TPP is a proposed trade agreement under negotiation by (as of August 2013) Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
4. The TPP is ostensibly intended to be a "high-standard" agreement aimed at emerging trade issues in the 21st century. These ongoing negotiations have drawn criticism and protest from the public, advocacy groups, and elected officials, in part due to the secrecy of the negotiations, the expansive scope of the agreement, and controversial clauses in drafts leaked to the public.
Origin and Evolution of the policy
In 2011, Obama administration issued and took a series of steps for playing a significant role in the Asia-Pacific region citing its importance.
USA identified this region as geostrategically important.
It can be studied in two phases.
When the policy was first rolled out in 2011-12, much of the emphasis was placed on military initiatives in the region. China disapproved of these initiatives, and Beijing took steps to demonstrate its power in maritime territorial disputes with U.S. allies. The Obama administration adjusted its approach in late 2012, playing down the significance of military initiatives, emphasizing economic and diplomatic elements, and calling for closer U.S. engagement with China.
STRATEGIC RATIONALE FOR THE REBALANCE
China saw this policy so as to contain China.
But the goals were much broader than what China is claiming. It includes strategic, economic and political considerations.
After much focus on Iraq and Afghanistan & a decade of War there, Obama administration is placing more emphasis on Northeast, Southeast and South Asia – parts of the world that will be of growing strategic and economic importance in the first half of the 21st century.
In geostrategic terms, the rebalance is the Obama administration’s grand strategy for U.S. foreign policy.
Also this policy is meeting the growing concern – strategic reassurance in the wake of assertive China.
To reassure U.S. allies, friends, and other countries in the region that the United States has not been exhausted after a decade of war, that it has not been weakened by economic and political problems at home, and that it is not going to disengage from Asia-Pacific affairs.
ELEMENTS OF THE REBALANCE
It’s a multidimensional policy initiative.
In regional terms, the shift includes a stronger emphasis on Southeast Asia and South Asia to complement traditionally strong American attention to Northeast Asia.
In policy terms, the rebalance entails three sets of initiatives – security, economic, and diplomatic elements.
Security: Changes in the U.S. military force structure are highly visible and have attracted much attention. Equipped with modern technology new military has been deployed in this region. Greater military integration with allies.
Economic: aims to expand bilateral and multilateral economic cooperation between the United States and the region. Much of the discussion has focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed free-trade agreement that presently involves the United States and 11 other countries, but does not currently include China. The Obama administration has also begun a process which will increase foreign assistance to the Asia- Pacific region by seven percent.
Diplomatic: U.S. diplomatic activism has involved strengthening U.S. alliances; building deeper relationships with partners such as Singapore and India; deepening engagement with multilateral institutions; and managing the U.S.-China relationship.
REGIONAL RESPONSE TO THE REBALANCE
China is not particularly happy about the rebalance of US-Asia relations.
China says that this policy is a way of containing China in a cold war style.
But, it is also true that Chinese officials are now more positive toward U.S.- China military cooperation than at any time during the Obama administration.
Other regional powers have two positions.
Position 1: most regional powers have been publicly or privately pleased to see the stronger U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.
Position 2: regional powers are also keen to avoid having to choose between the United States and China. They very much want to have good relationships with both countries.
Countries like Philippines, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore have been exceptions to the generally muted official reactions in the region. They support US initiative immensely.
In the face of a rising and increasingly assertive China, many countries in the Asia-Pacific region have drawn on classic balance-of-power thinking and “rebalanced” their positions closer to the non-threatening great power.
INDIA AND THIS POLICY
All this started with the unsuccessful visit to China in 2009 by Mr. Obama.
China asserted that Washington was on the verge of decline & so China was not interested to solve world problems together.
If this policy had been delayed in its implementation, would have weakened U.S. alliances in Asia and raised the threat of China.
India welcomed the rebalance.
But India has been cautious to publicly embrace the new initiative. But privately, India has encouraged USA’s initiative.
But is cautious about China, as it is the largest trading partner & an engine for growth for India as well as the difference between military might of China is significantly increasing.
Unambiguous Chinese assertiveness on the India-China border or in neighboring countries could lead Delhi to align itself more closely with the US.
PROSPECTS OF US-CHINA RELATIONS AND THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION
A happy ending is possible though not guaranteed.
The two powers namely, China & USA can coexist peacefully if the strategic aspirations are compatible.
Both can benefit from oneself & together solve the world problems.
To facilitate a positive outcome, it would be advisable to encourage China’s participation in the TPP.
Economic interdependence is not a panacea, but it has conflict-dampening benefits.
It would also be advisable to encourage China’s involvement in more military-to-military discussions and cooperative security endeavors. Transparency is not a panacea, but it too has conflict-dampening benefits.
More generally, it will be advisable to encourage China’s integration into regional and global institutions as much as possible.
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