All eyes were on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Myanmar from September 5-7, 2017. Firstly, it followed his visit to China, where he had gone to attend the BRICS Summit. Second, the visits to both China and Myanmar came soon after the end of the Doklam standoff.
Seeking more “economic assistance” from India in Afghanistan, Trump did appear to signal who the “good guy” is in the South Asian region. However, India was effectively brought into an unsavory quid pro quo equation.
On August 20, 2017, Wu Den-yih was inaugurated as the new chairman of Taiwan’s opposition party, the Kuomintang. 2020 will be the year Taiwan has to elect a new president. Can Wu succeed in helping a KMT member to become the next president?
India has so far dexterously balanced its relations with the different power centers in the Middle East. The countries of the GCC, led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, together host around seven million Indian expatriate workers who remit back hefty foreign exchange.
All eyes in the next few months will be on how former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will play his cards vis-à-vis the Pakistan army. If one were to look beyond the domestic ramifications, the first point which needs to be closely examined is how China has reacted to the instability.
In early August 2017, Japan lodged a protest with China over its gas exploration in a disputed area of the East China Sea. Confirming the presence of a Chinese drillship close to Tokyo’s proposed median line, Japan accused China of conducting “unilateral development.”
US President Donald Trump wrote: “China is our enemy.” He said China was an enemy because of weak and incompetent US officials that were taken to the cleaners by smart and seasoned Chinese negotiators, and he would fix that and turn China into a friend.
One of the arguments for a coming war is the Thucydides Trap theory. It goes that the situation of a status quo power (Sparta in ancient Greece) and a fast rising power that challenges the former (Athens) creates a condition wherein neither can tolerate the other.
At the end of the August 2017 ASEAN gathering in Manila, ASEAN overcame all obstacles and issued a communique addressing the non-militarization of the South China Sea. Both China and ASEAN have also agreed on the framework for a Code of Conduct.
For 70 years the United States has dominated Southeast Asia with both hard and soft power. While its hard power is still dominant and may even grow, its soft power seems to have declined. This decrease is both absolute and relative to that of China.