US, Japan aim to promote defence policy to Asean countries

The Indo-Pacific strategy has been initiated a few times by the US, which was recently made during the 35th Asean Summit

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE Indo-Pacific strategy was intended to be headed by the US and Japan to promote defence policy to the South-East Asian countries, especially in light of maritime territorial disputes between China and the region.

Japan former Defence Minister and Takushoku University chancellor Prof Satoshi Morimoto (picture) said the initial idea of the Indo-Pacific relation was to encourage and ensure the success of Asean countries’ economic development.

However, due to recent events, especially with regards to maritime disputes, the policy was also aimed to promote basic rules and safeguard the security of the Asean region.

“Another original idea of this engagement is to continuously promote the (defence) strategy throughout the region, which does not only encompass Asean countries but also India, and therefore, we intend to protect the peace of the Indo-Pacific region with this strategy.

“This is especially in light of China’s attempts to control strategic territories and occasionally neglecting international laws to make this come true,” he said at the Indo-Pacific Strategy and Japan forum in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Morimoto also added that countries involved in the strategy have come to a consensus that China is a “troublemaker”.

“My understanding is that whenever or if someday China happens to approach one of the nations, we have to establish some basic rules in order to provide them with security, as well as how to manage and secure the natural resources in the region.

“Due to this, we also have to share the common consensus to include capacity building, trading, education and basic transfer among the nations involved, which will all contribute to the region’s prosperity and growth,” he said.

Meanwhile, he added despite the sensitivity in the trade relations between the US and China, a compromise will have to be made with each other due to the mutual association in the two countries’ economies.

The Indo-Pacific strategy has been initiated a few times by the US, which was recently made during the 35th Asean Summit and Related Summits at the second annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum.

The report by the US titled “A Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Advancing a Shared Vision” was released then, stating China’s threat to the peace in the region, which emphasises ties with Taiwan.

India has chosen to not join China’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in order to counter the nation’s influence.

Meanwhile, China has been reported to have moved past conventions and expanded its influence into the South China Sea, where it has built and militarised artificial islands, thus illustrating a new geopolitical map.

A few countries in the South-East Asia support the Indo-Pacific strategy’s concept, considering it as an opportunity to enhance its strategic position, namely Indonesia and Singapore.

Some countries, however, are caught in the crossfire between the US and China, afraid of regional order changes which can come to rise with China, while some do not wish to lose dividends brought about by the country’s economic development.