The Architecture of Security in the Asia-Pacific

Security Pluralism in the Asia-Pacific: Reshaping Regional Order > Articles
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Table 1. Caballero-Anthony described the nature of non-traditional security issues as mainly nonmilitary in origin, simultaneously transnational and subnational in scope, fast development, short notice of appearance, and rapid spreading due to globalization. The Asia Pacific region is awash in security threats and issues. There are probably periods when governments lurch from crisis to crisis. As the nature of both traditional and non-traditional security threats means that the causes are not rooted in a single state alone but due to the complex, interwoven histories, policies and politics, the effects are not expected to respect territorial boundaries.

Contagion, for example, is the downside of further economic integration in the region as explained earlier. Open conflicts may produce spillovers like refugees and asylum seekers which affect uninvolved states.

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Cataloguing-in-Publication entry. Title: The architecture of security in the Asia- Pacific / editor Ron Huisken. ISBN: (pbk.) (pdf.) . We cannot expect in East Asia over the foreseeable future to see the sort of conflation of sovereign states that has occurred in Europe. We must anticipate that.

Traditional and non-traditional threats thus push the region toward cooperation to respond to common challenges and concerns. As such, various proposals have been put forward to fill the vacuum that the ARF is unwilling to fill. It is expected, however, that the current setup is untenable for there are no resolutions to pressing issues and cooperation is heavily disjointed in responding to the different challenges to the region.

The US and other states in the region have pointed out that regional institutions need to work better. These Grand Ideas are found in Table 2. Table 2. Grand Ideas for Regional Security Architecture. These Grand Ideas for regional security architecture are indicative of the following: 1 the Asia Pacific region is beset by various security challenges, 2 there is difficulty in responding to these challenges because of potential spillover effects and the transnational nature of many threats, 3 there is a need to have an overarching structure to tackle these challenges, and 4 there is yet no regional security architecture to speak of that will be able to do so.

Current Asia Pacific regional arrangements also fail to effectively separate political, economic and security issues which lead to an organization like APEC to also tackle non-traditional security issues, apart from its main remit of economic cooperation. As mentioned earlier, the security environment of the Asia Pacific is in flux and prone to various non-traditional threats. Traditional security concerns, which involve potential inter-state conflict, also exist and threaten the region.

The enormity of the collective challenges makes it difficult to respond to these individually or through bilateral alliances. The need for a regional security architecture that can broker and settle possible inter-state disputes, coordinate responses to transnational security threats, and balance the competing powers in the Asia Pacific is not contested.

Executive Summary

Furthermore, the history of 20th century Asia has primarily been a colonial and post-colonial history. Since the late s, there has been no significant conflict in East Asia. Panelists observed that the economic strength of countries like the United States, China, Japan, and South Korea demonstrates that the path to national power in the twenty-first century is to prioritize economic growth over military hardware. Download et app. First, it facilitates cooperation through both formal and informal means. But it can assist, over time, in ameliorating a number of underlying strategic and territorial tensions which underlie these alliances, as well as managing any future crises as they arise.

The argument, however, is in how such architecture should be constructed, who will manage its development, and whether participating states are willing to give up some of their sovereignty. Various proposals such as the Grand Ideas explained in this paper all point to the fact that there is no regional security architecture that currently has the capacity to mediate between and among states in the region or coordinate efforts in combating transnational threats.

Talks of an evolving regional security architecture were not at the forefront of ASEAN discussions before However, in after Australia invited a 1. ASEAN asserted that its own community-building efforts will positively contribute to the building of a community in the wider region. This was done in recognition of the complexity of facing transnational security challenges and the desire for further cooperation between ASEAN member-states and extra-regional states.

The ADMM Plus is also expected to build greater confidence among defense establishments as well as enhance regional peace and security. What should be noticeable to observers is the dilemma on the part of ASEAN on what it envisions the regional security architecture to be. The dilemma, however, is that while ASEAN recognizes that there is an evolving regional security architecture, it still insists on the ARF as the central pillar for that architecture.

Launch of Asia Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2017

However, the ARF has now focused on non-traditional security concerns and may not now be able to confront the challenges faced by the region seeing that the forum has not moved toward preventive diplomacy and remains moribund in confidence-building measures. A glimmer of hope was seen in the 17 th ARF, which was able to bring back to the center stage state-level dialogues of security concerns but other avenues such as the ADMM Plus may be able to gain more traction where the ARF has failed.

Regional security arrangements are meant to do two things: first, to concentrate on collective defense or conflict management, and second, to focus on confidence and trust-building in the first instance.

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States have the choice whether they want to build confidence first in the region before any talks of collective defense and conflict management should be made, or they can also choose to move on to discussion of greater defense and conflict management cooperation if they feel that there is enough confidence among states in the region. In the continuing evolution of the Asia Pacific regional security architecture, it should be made obvious that states have to make some choices so that the direction of the evolution will be clear.

In this paper, the choices are summarized in three: continuity vs. Concert of Powers vs. Would states prefer a regional security architecture centered on the ASEAN or would they prefer a new set of institutions? ASEAN has always advocated that changes should be made at the pace that all participants are comfortable with.

Thus, all participant states in the ARF have to consider the capacity of every other state in the region when proposing potential courses of action. This lowest common denominator approach allows for equity as it prevents more powerful states from running roughshod over weaker states. At the same time, it hinders further developments in the region as weaker states constantly seek to block initiatives which may impinge on their sovereignty. A new set of institutions may be preferable to some as a way out of the current impasse in the ARF.

Anew regional security architecture not based on the ASEAN way nor making the ARF the central pillar would have the advantage of being a real forum for preventive diplomacy wherein state sovereignty, while remaining central, would not be a hindrance to ensuring that progress can be made on difficult issues.

The problem lies in the changes that a new regional security architecture would make. Any agreement on the role of the architecture would have to be accepted by all states in the region lest the region breaks down into different factions and exclusive organizations. This, however, would be reminiscent of the ASEAN way, which has proved to be a stumbling block in deeper cooperation when brought into other regional institutions.

The difficulty is also by the lack of homogeneity in the states of the Asia Pacific region. As such, it makes any proposed architecture a puzzle board with no puzzle pieces that can make a perfect picture. If progress has been made, where is the Asia Pacific now in terms of security cooperation? Any proposed architecture will also have to take into consideration the level of confidence currently existing in the region if radical changes will be proposed. If for 15 years, the ARF has not gained sufficient levels of confidence that will allow it to move on to preventive diplomacy, how can any new architecture impose confidence so that it can be an architecture that can solve real problems?

Another debate is whether the regional security architecture should evolve from ASEAN-related and inspired institutions such as the ARF, EAS and others which will be distinct from these and will overlap with the concerns of these institutions and process, or it should be a new structure that will be independent of ASEAN and will probably subsume it into itself.

The difference between this debate and the previous choice is that in this case, states will have to decide whether the multifarious institutions in the Asia Pacific such as APEC, ASEAN, APT, and the rest will be retained so that the regional architecture can focus solely on security issues, especially traditional ones; or, create a single structure that will have the means to coordinate and implement the current activities that are being done in existing institutions.

A single structure architecture may have to ensure that it can manage economic, political, and security relations in the region. The difficulty of such a task may be insurmountable considering the differing institutional contexts that states exist in. The possibility of a single structure will also have to consider the potential damage on the good will of states that will be involved in terms of the confidence built by ASEAN institutions and mechanisms.

A new single structure architecture will definitely have its work cut out for it. The concept of a unipolar Asia Pacific hinges on the belief that the US will still retain supremacy in the region. Despite the domestic challenges being faced by the US, some analysts believe that it will still dominate the region through sheer military power. Asian states may even have a complicit role in maintaining US hegemony in the region. The US by default becomes that fallback position. Another view on US dominance is that the rise of China causes Asia Pacific states to be cautious, thereby propelling them to seek a strategic alliance with the US.

While this view does not remain unchallenged, it is important to note that there is no clear-cut discourse on the future of the US in the Asia Pacific. However, the US itself seems to be ambivalent being content in letting other states drive the discussion on security architecture, and at the same it is reluctant in supporting any architecture that might diminish its influence, and furthermore, does not want to relinquish its dominant status in the region. The Australian proposal for an APc was seen as a move to create a concert of powers in the region.

This concert would include the big economic powers in the region or eight to ten members of the new G A concert of powers is an expanded version of cooperative security. In a cooperative security system, states may be distrustful of one another but possess no perception of immediate threats. Principles, rules, and procedures to govern inter-state relations, or in short, institutionalization is agreed upon to increase trust and lessen the potential of misreading state behavior that can lead to crisis.

Reducing uncertainty in security issues can lead to improved relations in economic cooperation and collective action in addressing transnational issues. Currently, the Asia Pacific region operates more or less under a cooperative security system.

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States in the region, while wary and sometimes openly distrustful of one another, do not see their neighbors as immediate threats to security. They are still able to dialogue with one another and cooperate at some levels. While a concert of powers means that powerful states hold more sway than weaker ones, ASEAN as a community is able to exercise to a great degree a sway that individual member-states could not do.

As such, the reality is that in the region, a concert of powers includes taking the ASEAN as a whole. Of course, it cannot be doubted that there are internal tensions among member-states that might weaken their combined influence, but this is mitigated by the ASEAN Charter which calls for a centrality of ASEAN in the external relations of member-states. These major powers in fact may differ on what constitutes security issues and what can cause conflicts. A concert of powers does little to assuage smaller states that they will not be bullied into cooperation.

The idea of a security community in the Asia Pacific will have to be a long-term goal. Community security is a much deeper relationship than cooperative security. In a community security system, national ideas and interests are subsumed under a more supra-national system or a community of states. Disputes will be resolved through agreed upon mechanisms, and force is considered illegitimate in solving them. These are ambitious goals that make a wider community difficult to create in the medium term.

In a region such as the Asia Pacific where there is no single institution that compels or at the very least promotes cooperation, the development of a regional security architecture would go a long way in ensuring stability and peace. However, this regional security architecture cannot be simply wished into existence. It has to consider the challenges that can be brought about by domestic instability in weak states.

It also must seek to delegitimize force as the main response to security issues. This means that domestic disturbances in one state can adversely affect other states and can be a contagion for the region because there is no mechanism for close cooperation. In a normative direction, the regional security architecture of the Asia Pacific can only be 1 gradual and not abruptly imposed, 2 built upon the confidence gained by ASEAN and the ARF among regional states, and 3 toward building a secured regional community.

This is not to say that there have been no efforts toward meeting these criteria. However, the experience of the ARF has shown that great powers can subvert regional goals because they threaten national interests.

see The raising of the South China Sea as a core national interest did little to inspire confidence in the region. However, time has allowed the region to settle into an uneasy but peaceful existence. Thus, a gradual approach to a new architecture would be necessary so as not to disrupt the gains obtained throughout the years by existing institutions such as the ARF and the APEC.

Also, weaker states need to improve their domestic situation so that they can easily fit into the architecture.

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It is imperative in this regard that ASEAN is able to achieve its various blueprints toward community building so that its member-states can approach other states on the region in equal terms. A gradual approach should also mean that major powers in the region should start or improve their bilateral relations and reduce tensions among themselves. Pan-regional institutions such as the ARF and the APEC have done much in improving confidence, and a new security architecture needs to capitalize on this, else it would not be successful. As it is, proponents of new models of security cooperation have failed to inspire trust among ASEAN member-states.

Regional Security Architecture

There is no assurance that Pacific and Latin American states would be more trustful that they would not be marginalized in an architecture that presumably they would be invited to also join. While the ARF has not moved toward the preventive diplomacy stage, and while the APEC has failed to realize economic integration in the Asia Pacific, there are still valuable lessons learned along the way that can be used by whatever regional security architecture that would exist as object lessons.

The apparent failure of a cooperative security framework to reduce uncertainties in the region need not mean that a community security framework has no chance to exist.

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Speculation intensified during the immediate post-Cold War period that the United States had become a unipolar power. Robert Ross argues that geography will cause China and the United States to divide the sphere of influence between continental states and maritime states. Moreover, David Kang sees regional states to be increasingly bandwagoning with China and suggests that a reconstitution of the old hierarchical Asian order centering on China is underway, providing a basis for regional stability.

Yet, the prospects for any of the above scenarios occurring anytime soon seem remote. Second, there is much resistance within the region to a hierarchical order led by China. Japan especially would not take comfort in such an order. Japan claims that it will assume a greater security role in the region by allowing itself to exercise the rights of collective self-defense. Third, China has been engaged in territorial and political disputes with its neighbors, while the United States does not harbor territorial ambitions in the region because it is physically located outside the region.

By presenting an alternative vision of order, China at the moment avoids the hard balancing against the United States it might do were its military capabilities closer to those of the United States, its fellow G-2 state. Nonetheless, it has begun to challenge the US-led order at the lowest level. From a Chinese perspective, US strategy is intended to export US ideologies, such as values related to democracy and free trade, to encircle China. On the other hand, if these projections between the United States and China proceed unchecked, regional states may have to brace for an era of tension and confrontation.

Indeed, as Sino-US strategic competition has intensified, the two giants have been more often pressing regional states to choose between their rhetorical claims. For example, the United States has been asking regional partners to assert their stance on the freedom of navigation or the rule of international law in the South China Sea, which China perceives as a scheme of the United States to justify its power projection in the region against China.

In this sense, the third part of the article examines how regional states have been attempting to carve out their space in the rhetorical confrontation between the United States and China in order to avoid being trapped in a war of rhetoric between the two great powers. According to hegemonic stability theory, as the gap in capabilities between a hegemonic power and a rising power narrows, war is more likely to occur because 1 the hegemonic power has incentives to initiate a preventive war, or 2 the rising power militarily challenges the hegemonic state in order to assume a position in the international order commensurate with its budding ability to project power Gilpin The question then becomes how much narrower it needs to be to eventuate conflict.

China has adopted this strategy of using de-legitimizing rhetoric in its relationship with the United States. Currently, the Xi government finds it more pressing to resolve its domestic problems than to divert available resources for an unnecessary zero-sum type of strategic confrontation with the United States. Provided that China continues to rise while successfully managing to resolve its domestic problems, the power gap between the United States and China is likely to become narrower as time passes.

Nevertheless, at present China has not reached the point at which power transition theory would likely predict a challenge to the hegemon. Indeed, China perceives itself to be a rising developmental state rather than a G2 state comparable to the United States Tiankai and Tepperman Under such circumstances, China indeed understands that it has limitations and shortcomings in competing for a leadership role against the United States, whether among the continental states in the region or for the entire region Ibid. That being said, China as a rising power will increasingly challenge the US-led hegemonic order in the region.

The concept is utilized to criticize the strengthening of the US-led security network that China perceives to be an outmoded relic of the Cold War. In the Asia-Pacific, multilateral security cooperation has been underdeveloped because of the lack of a sense of political community and shared political identity. The region has witnessed the tension rise between a US-led inclusive Asia-Pacific and a China-supported exclusive East Asian multilateralism. With regard to regional multilateral gatherings, China has been supporting exclusive East Asian groupings as opposed to inclusive Asia-Pacific groupings.

By proposing to create a regional security architecture that excludes the United States, China aims to disturb the US-led Asia-Pacific, or emerging Indo-Pacific, multilateral order. The United States has been upgrading its alliances with Asian partners and creating various sets of linkage among the United States, its allies, and its security partners. The United States claims that such a US posture is necessary to maintain American leadership, which has been essential to stabilizing regional order.

The three states adopted non-traditional security issues as the main agenda of the TSD and have been conducting joint military exercises. Though the South Korean government has been reluctant to establish stronger linkages between the two alliances, the United States has continued to exert pressure to link the US-Japan and the US-South Korea alliances. In terms of the US-led alliances in Southeast Asia and the Pacific since the end of the Cold War, the United States has tended to invite third parties when it conducts joint military exercises with its ally.

Indeed, the annual military exercises of the US-Philippines and the US-Thailand alliances increasingly have been conducted in a multilateral setting Ibid. Other ad-hoc military exercises for counter-terrorism and disaster relief have mostly been conducted in a multilateral format as well. The United States also has been attempting to expand mini-lateral linkages to include India.

For example, US-Japan-India trilateralism was launched in at a track-2 level, and since , at a track-1 level Green Such an idea was first initiated by Japan and supported by the United States in , when both Japan and Australia participated in the regular naval military exercise between the United States and India known as Malabar.

Yet the idea was shelved, as Australia distanced itself from committing to what China perceived as a strategy of outright containment. However, the idea of the QSD has been revived, as the three states have been increasing security interactions with India. To illustrate, Japan participated in Malabar in , , and , and has been doing so every year since The United States has become the most frequent state with which India has conducted military exercises Miglani Australia had been reluctant to join Malabar out of consideration for China, but it has been reported that Australia expressed interest in joining the exercises Smith Third, the United States can reduce transaction costs in coordinating collective action with its allies and security partners.

From the US and Japanese perspectives, the Indo-Pacific is a space wherein a group of democratic states can work together to prevent an exclusively China-centered regionalism from coming into fruition. Those interests include maintaining a benign US offshore balancing role for regional stability, and the values include democracy, human rights, free trade, and freedom of navigation. That being said, it is hard to deny that a strengthened US alliance network also functions as a hedge against potential Chinese threats. In particular, China has been closely watching the aforementioned expansion and deepening of US-Japan-Australia trilateral security cooperation Liff China has been referring to these concepts to criticize the strengthening of the US-led alliance network, which China perceives as an outmoded relic of the Cold War.

China frames US attempts to form linkages among alliance partners as an attempt to contain China, thereby going against the concept. According to the concept, the United States and China should cooperate with each other in order to avoid a war between them that power transition theory would predict. In order to overcome a typical security dilemma in which the United States and China condemn each other as the cause of the Sino-American strategic confrontations, they should highlight their complementary aspects and reconcile with each other.

Third, China has been challenging the aforementioned US justification for expanding and deepening the US-led alliance and security network. With the demise of the Soviet Union, however, the United States lost the essential rationale for retaining the US-led alliance network in the Asia-Pacific, as well as in Europe. To reflect the changing security environment, the rationale the United States adopted in the post-Cold War era has been to promote democracy and preserve free trade, values embedded in the US-led liberal order.

As the United States retains its alliances in the Asia-Pacific region and extends its security network, Washington may well replace that rationale with a new one. First, the United States supports the US-Thailand alliance despite the fact that there have been a series of military coups that led to the overthrowing of a democratically-elected government. Also, although the ways Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been conducting his war on drugs are far from democratic, the United States has been maintaining the US-Philippines alliance since he took office.

Thus, promoting democracy now cannot act as the rhetorical glue holding together the US-led alliances. Second, the United States has been developing security relationships with non-democratic states. The United States has remarkably enhanced its security relationship with Singapore, whose regime type is authoritarian.

Furthermore, the United States has been approaching Vietnam and Myanmar to increase security cooperation with them. Neither state is democratic. Therefore, China has been seeking to de-legitimize the rule of law rhetoric put forward by the United States. China frames it as a disguised US justification for strengthening the US-led alliance and security network in order to better contain China. To do so, China asserts that there is no consensus in the region regarding who should make the law on what.

Re-establishing these transportation routes was proposed to enhance economic cooperation between China, East Asia, and the Middle East. The two proposals are economically very attractive to countries along the Silk Road route. China claims that stakeholder states should set up a bank to provide funds for the infrastructural development necessary to implement the proposals.

In doing so, China asserted that bank membership should be given only to Asian states, while excluding the United States. While the United States expressed its concern over South Korea joining the organization, President Xi officially asked then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye to join it as one of the founding states during a summit between the two held in July South Korea did indeed join in March China hosted a conference on the Belt and Road Initiative in , and the Chinese Communist Party enshrined the initiative into its constitution during the Party Congress in