Tag Archives: Russia

Asian partnerships offer double-hedge for European Grand Strategy

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From Wall Street Journal article “China Sees Itself at Center of New Asian Order”, 9 November 2024 (click for link)

There is a lot of thought going into the need for Europe to have a grand strategy. Some of it is very good (link). Here is a simple suggestion:

A: What do Europeans want? Safety and prosperity.

B: Europe’s only real security threat? Russia. The main driver of global prosperity? Asia, centred on China.

C: So Europe should (i) partner with China on trade to build a strategic hedge against Russia, and (ii) partner with Indo-Pacific powers to insure against dependence on China.

What would that look like?

(i) Partner with China to balance Russia. China is countering the US Pivot with its two silk roads (link, link), and cooperating with this plan represents a golden opportunity for Europe to kill two birds with one stone. First, it offers a way to lock in trade interdependence with China. Second, it offers a basis for strategic cooperation that will create a balance against Europe’s only major security threat – Russia. So Europe should pour diplomatic, economic resources into partnering with China to establish the silk road around Russia and to develop market and strategic opportunities in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East (link here for ideas). After all, since the whole purpose of the silk route is to connect China and Europe, this is the most natural basis for our common interest. The fact that it offers a chance to drive a wedge between China and Russia is a bonus in terms of European security (link).

(ii) Partner with Indo-Pacific powers to encourage peaceful growth in the region, and to insure against the risk of an all-powerful China becoming a threat to regional peace and global prosperity. While Europe wants a peaceful and prosperous relationship with China, it would not be in Europe’s longer term interests to see China turn East and South East Asia into a Sino-centric block. European prosperity is increasingly dependent on on the health not just of China’s economy, but of the economies of the whole Asian region. Currently the most likely source of conflict – and threat to continued prosperity – in Asia is rivalry in the maritime sphere. A quadrilateral alliance (made up of the United States, Japan, Australia and India) is already taking shape to prevent Chinese naval hegemony at sea. It helps that these countries  broadly share the same set of values as Europe. If China’s neighbours continue to feel intimidated, then this alliance will be supported by the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia. No matter how far and how fast China rises, it would be futile to oppose such a coalition. If European diplomacy, technology and naval forces are put in the service of this coalition to support freedom of navigation and uphold UNCLOS then it will support the international order and prosperity in Asia, and provide a hedge against the possibility that China might be tempted to do anything that threatens global free trade and prosperity. Europe’s message to China should be ‘we welcome your return to great power status and want to trade with you, but we stand by the rules based order of international relations, and we will pay the price to uphold it’.

A more developed version of this idea was posted at the website European Geostrategy here:

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Abe visits Europe, May 2014 – some suggestions

Shinzo Abe

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due to visit Europe in May (link). What should he be getting out of this trip?

  1. The idea is to strengthen relations with the European Union , sign a few free trade agreements and finalize the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement. Considering Japan’s desire for a more strategic relationship with Europe, why not go a bit further? PM Abe has talked about making some changes in policies that will lead to Japan becoming even more proactive in global peacekeeping efforts, and so far there is little to show for it. UN Peacekeeping is one option, but why not kill two birds with one stone (peacekeeping and Euro-Japan concord) and agree to pursue a Framework Partnership Agreement with the EU that would allow Japanese civilians and members of the Self Defence Forces to participate in EU crisis management missions and operations? Korea is on track to do so, then why not Japan? Approximately two thirds of CSDP efforts are civilian missions, so well within the ‘human security’ paradigm MOFA has supported through the UN. Also, following the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan (an alliance apparently in no hurry to do anything similar again), the EU is still launching missions left, right and centre, and may offer more opportunities for Japan to bond with a European security platform.
  2. To gain international support in light of territorial disputes with China and South Korea and deflect critical remarks from both countries over historical issues, Japan has to start thinking outside the box. This visit is an opportunity to change the narrative from Yasukuni and sex slaves onto something more positive. Abe could counter China’s propaganda offensive by organizing an event in the UK to showcase post-WWII reconciliation between Japan and Great Britain. What if Abe and Cameron together attend a screening of the recent movie based on the true life story of Anglo-Japan reconciliation “The Railway Man”? Abe can give a speech about how Britain and Japan managed to squarely face up to the tragedies of that war and become, united by common values, allies once again. This would have two advantages: (1) refute the image of Abe as being in denial about Japan’s past; and (2) showcase an example of how Japan has managed to rebuild its international relations with an important ally.
  3. Abe is also planning to meet with French President Hollande. This will be interesting because Japan and France have been working hard on their relationship, which is elevated to a 2+2 meeting with a roadmap for security cooperation. This offers a chance to get an indication of which basket (UK, France, EU, V4, NATO) Japan is putting most of its eggs, or if it will continue to distribute them rather evenly across this set.
  4. Abe is set to participate in the Ministerial Council Meeting of the OECD in Paris on May 6 – 7. Events in Ukraine will probably set the atmosphere for this. Russia will be out of the G8. It is a shame for Abe, who wanted to settle the northern islands dispute with Russia and secure an alternative source of hydrocarbon energy supplies from Russia. However, Vladimir Putin has gone too far in Ukraine. Abe has to take a stand on this because (1) that is the essence of his narrative about values (rule of law, democracy, free speech, free market); and because (2) Japan has to back up the present world order in case China starts to feel the rules have changed. OECD is about economies, so maybe hopefully there will be more to talk about than handling the fallout from sanctioning Russia.

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Russia Pivots – Time to take notice of the Euro-Asia security superconductor

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It’s that bear again. Big exercises in Asia, and now this: Russia’s Pacific Fleet to Receive New Warships in 2014

Russia the double-headed eagle – It’s European, it’s Asian. Makes you think, doesn’t it? French built warship, Russian flag and soon to sail the Pacific. These are the first ships added to their Pacific fleet since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Continue reading

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New Europe and Asian security – my enemy’s enemy?

imagesPivot watchers may assume that what Don Rumsfeld called ‘new Europe’ (countries that joined the EU and NATO in latter post USSR years) are concerned at the US Pivot to Asia because the drawdown of America’s commitment to European security will reduce the credibility of the deterrent against Russia on their borders. Some members of ‘old Europe’ further west are Continue reading

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A Chinese perspective on the Libya intervention

Ben Judah writes an interesting entry in the European Council on Foreign Relations site, reporting a Chinese official’s comment on the Libya intervention:

“What we are really angry about is that we have spent a large amount of time trying to convince North Korea that they can give up nuclear weapons and they will not be attacked by the West. We were using the Libyan example. Now we cannot. This is a real blow to East Asian security, thank you very much,”

Another significant observation he makes is that:

“Most analysts in Moscow and Beijing struggle to take Western idealism at face-value. This seems to me only partially due to the grim realities most interventions produced. Chinese and Russian politics itself has been devoid of idealism for almost twenty years, and those that wrap themselves in the flag or any cause are cynically suspected of ulterior motives.”

Perhaps this is a legacy of Communism’s ideological defeat that hasn’t been noted so much before, but which can cause misunderstandings about motives in foreign policy. Despite its weaknesses in some areas, ‘old Europe’ was encouraged by the outcome of the Cold War to continue to see itself as a leader in global ‘values’ and this still feeds into popular and elite ideas on how it should act in the world.

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