US gathers great Asian democracies to its side


    NEW YORK CITY: The United States took a moment Tuesday to gather the great Asian democracies to its side to reassure them of the strength of their ties in the face of North Korean threats and an assertive China.

    New threats from Pyongyang, ominous economic signals and China’s aggressive stance on its territorial claims in the South China Sea and the Pacific have sent jitters through the region.

    President Barack Obama’s administration has long talked about a “rebalancing” in America’s strategic focus, the so-called “pivot to Asia,” but has often been distracted by crises elsewhere.

    Officials say 21st century America will be as much a Pacific power as an Atlantic one, but in recent months Syria, Ukraine, Iran and Cuba have used up a lot of diplomatic bandwidth.

    So on Tuesday in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, senior officials from the United States, Japan and South Korea met to renew their ties and show a common front.

    Later in the day, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj of India, the world’s largest democracy and a growing economic partner of the United States, was also to meet her US and Japanese counterparts.

    “The primary purpose of this is to recognize that the region is going through certain challenges, but also faces major opportunities,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

    Kerry cited negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a major free trade deal — as a chance to deepen economic ties, and North Korea’s rogue regime as an immediate danger to the region.

    Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida agreed, calling the security environment “very severe” and stressing the importance of the US-Japan and US-South Korea military alliances.

    After the first annual US-India-Japan trilateral meeting, the US camp said: “The three countries agreed to work together to maintain maritime security through greater collaboration.”

    This will include Japanese forces joining Indian and US naval vessels on the Malabar 2015 training exercise next month.

    South Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, said the meeting came “at a very critical juncture, when the eyes of the world are set on the major challenges involving all of us.”

    He said the talks would send a “very clear” message to North Korea in particular not to provoke the allies.

    Rocket test
    On October 10, North Korea will mark the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party and there has been speculation for months that it will celebrate with a long-range rocket test.

    Kim Jong-Un’s pariah regime is under international sanctions, and Seoul and Washington have made it clear that they would see such a test as part of a banned ballistic missile program.

    And even if the test does not take place, tensions remain high in the region, with Pyongyang periodically escalating its rhetoric and threatening all-out war against its neighbor.

    US diplomats are loathe to describe their ties with the Asian democracies as a counter-balance to a rising China, but Beijing is the elephant in the room when the friends met.

    Most of the countries of the Asia-Pacific have deep economic ties with China, but many also have disputes, in particular over its maritime territorial ambitions.

    In recent months, Chinese construction crews have built air strips and docks on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea attempting to expand their control into disputed waters.

    Last week, Obama welcomed his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to the White House and both men promised closer cooperation, as the world’s great powers cautiously circle one another.

    And even as the Chinese economy has stuttered, causing ripples through world markets, Xi has tightened his grip on power, purging corrupt officials and cracking down on dissidents.

    Beijing remains a key partner in countering the North Korean threat, but its new assertiveness abroad risks throwing its delicately balanced US relationship out of kilter.


    Please follow our commenting guidelines.

    1 Comment

    1. Mariano Patalinjug on

      Yonkers, New York
      02 October 2015

      The war drums are actually daily beating harder and harder and may rise to a crescendo sooner rather than later, with the United States, Japan, South Korea, and India close to reaching a consensus on making all necessary preparations now to deal with any eventuality against China, including war.

      It is significant that in his recent Speech before the United Nations in New York, President Barack Obama expressed this warning, which obviously was directed to China, to wit:


      Also just the other day, prescient Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe succeeded in getting the Parliament “to reinterpret its pacifist constitution and affirm its right to collective self-defense. And, consistent with that historic change, Japan may soon decide to go Nuclear, considering that China and North Korea, its close neighbors are already nuclear. This will be easy for Japan because now it has 9 tons of plutonium and 1.2 tons of enriched uranium,with another 35 tons stored in France and the UK–all of which are enough to make 5,000 nuclear bombs. Japan already has the technology to make ICBMs to deliver whatever nuclear bombs it is able to produce within just one year.

      Recall that some 3 years back, a prescient President Barack Obama announced to the world the US new geopolitical strategy of “A Pivot to Asia” [since renamed “Rebalancing”] under which 6 of the US’s Nimitz-class “Strike Forces” would be deployed to Asia. More likely than not these six are already in place in the US air and naval base in Yokosuka, Japan; in Midway; in Guam, and in Pearl Harbor. One may also be in the US sprawling naval base in San Diego.

      The US, even alone, is already more than ready to meet any contingency,including armed conflict against China. But with the US’s probable allies Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia, China may have to think twice or thrice before it makes the foolhardy plunge which could obliterate its major cities, take out half of its population or, in short, push it back to the Stone Age.