Chinese Type 99 Battle Tank on Display at the Beijing Military Museum, August 2007, courtesy of Max Smith/Wikimedia Commons
An article in the New York Times on 20 October 2013 highlighted China’s emergence as a major exporter of advanced weapons systems. The global arms market has traditionally been dominated by a handful of mostly Western suppliers: the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and, increasingly, Israel.
Now, however, China appears to be mounting some serious competition to this cabal, with its ability to offer increasingly sophisticated weaponry at rock-bottom prices. According to the NYT, this catalogue includes Predator-like armed drones, air-defence systems similar in capabilities to the Patriot missile, and perhaps even stealth fighter jets. » More
Australian national flag during sunset close to Halmahera Island, Indonesia. Photo: Australian Department of Defence/flickr.
The Abbott government has promised to write a new Defence White Paper within 18 months, and one of the key challenges it will face is considering the place of Indonesia in Australian defence thinking. As the fear of a direct Indonesian threat retreats into the past, it is being replaced by a view of Indonesia as a potential ‘buffer’ separating Australia from the vagaries of the East Asian system. But when the new government considers Australia’s defence options in the next century, it’d do well to remember that Indonesia gets a vote in the role it plays in defending Australia.
Historically, Indonesia has comprised an important, though unclear, element in Australia’s strategic environment. When Australia looks at its neighbourhood in isolation, Indonesia’s proximity and strategic potential makes it appear as a liability. But if the lens is widened to encompass the entire Asia-Pacific strategic system, a strong Indonesia looks more like an asset. During the Cold War Australia’s security concerns about Indonesia revolved around threats associated with Konfrontasi, communism and state collapse, with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Sukarno regime menacing briefly in 1965. But as early as the 1970s, Defence was also conducting studies of possible regional contingencies which involved Indonesia as an ally in achieving regional security. So recognition of our mutual strategic interests coexisted with security concerns about Indonesia. » More
Chinese and Pakistan border guards at Khunjerab Pass, Karakoram Highway. Source: A. Maw / Wikimedia Commons
NEW DELHI – Nowadays, many people seem to be more relaxed than ever about nationality, with the Internet enabling them to forge close connections with distant cultures and people. But states remain extremely sensitive about their borders’ inviolability. After all, territory – including land, oceans, air space, rivers, and seabeds – is central to a country’s identity, and shapes its security and foreign policy.
States can respond to territorial disputes either by surrendering some aspects of sovereignty, thus weakening their power and influence, or by adopting a more robust national-defense strategy aimed at fending off current challenges and precluding future threats. Today, many Asian countries are choosing the latter option.
Consider the territorial disputes roiling the Indian Ocean and other East Asian regions, sparked by China’s repeated – and increasingly assertive – efforts to claim sovereignty over vast maritime areas. As China’s incursions reignite long-smoldering disagreements and threaten to destabilize the regional status quo, countries throughout Asia are reconsidering their strategic positions.
A vessel from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces. Image by US Pacific Fleet/Flickr.
On July 21, 2013, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) achieved a decisive victory in an upper house election, making the party the dominant power in both lower and upper houses. As a result of this election, the ruling coalition is in an environment that is more conducive to their policies and thus amendments are more likely to get passed in both houses. Both Prime Minister Abe and Secretary-General of LDP Ishiba have the goal of amending Article 9 of the constitution, which states that “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” This article is well known in the international community as having kept Japan away from armed conflicts since WWII.
Barack Obama. Photo: Matt Ortega/flickr.
On 19 June, President Obama announced his intention to reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons by up to a third. Speaking in Berlin, he said ‘So long as nuclear weapons exist we are not truly safe’, while also announcing that the US will work with NATO allies to seek ‘bold reductions’ in both US and Russian tactical weapons in Europe.
He pledged to pursue US ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and to begin negotiations to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons – neither of which has made any headway in the last fourteen years. He also announced that the US will host a Nuclear Security Summit in 2016, following previous successful summits in Washington, DC and Seoul, and the forthcoming 2014 summit in the Netherlands. » More