Tensions In Asia-Pacific Amid China-Russia Drills

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Nearly 30 vessels, 23 aircraft, 30 armed vehicles and nearly 500 marines from China and Russia have entered the active phase of the Joint Sea-2015 (II) drills held in Russian territorial waters and in neutral waters off the Sea of Japan.

“During the active phase of the maritime maneuvers to last till August 27, the sailors work out the issues of join anti-sabotage, anti-submarine, anti-vessel and anti-aircraft defense. Besides that there’ll be gunnery drills with different types of surface, underwater and aerial targets,” said Roman Martov, Russia’s Eastern Military District spokesman, according to Russian state-owned TASS.

Apart from the Sea of Japan, the military exercises are being held in Peter the Great Bay and waters off the Clerk Cape until August 28.

Although a source close to the joint maneuvers told Xinhua news agency that the drills “are not targeted at any third party and are not relevant to the regional status quo,” the West and Japan are still worried about the meaning of such exercises at this particular time.

This is the fourth joint drills of the Russian and Chinese navies. This year, the drills are supposed to show a high level of mutual strategic trust between armies of the two powers, which is likely promote both the strategic cooperation between Beijing and Moscow and their military friendship.

The Sea of Japan borders four countries – Japan, Russia, North and South Korea. The Chinese Navy has not conducted any military drills in this area before.

The drills are being held at the time of the increasing militarization of the Pacific under U.S. President Barack Obama’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ doctrine. The main idea of the ‘Pivot to Asia’ doctrine is to allow the U.S. Pacific Command to draw more than two thirds of all U.S. forces under its command.

The Japanese government, in its turn, is making legal efforts that would allow the major U.S. ally in Asia to break away from its pacifism and combine forces with American forces in operations in the region.

Tensions between alliances in the Asia-Pacific Region

A tendency to carry out joint drills have developed in recent years, which indicates the wake-up of military diplomacy. However, such joint maneuvers in the Asia-Pacific Region have a more profound meaning. And since people are fond of making assumptions as to who would fight whom, let’s analyze the current state of the Asia-Pacific Region.

Is creating alliances a modern trend in the Asia-Pacific Region? And while officials of Asian countries deny it, ordinary people have noticed that it’s actually the case.

Both Moscow and Beijing claim that their military drills are not targeted at any third party. However, since China has repeatedly disputed islands in the Pacific, it’s hard for the West to believe in Beijing’s peaceful intentions.

On the other hand, the U.S. and Japan come out into the open about their alliance, and nobody is even taking their attempts to cover the true intentions of their joint drills seriously. Meanwhile, the international community believes that China and Russia are holding military maneuvers to counter those held by the U.S. and Japan.

However, it must be pointed out that Moscow and Beijing do not share the kind of warmth in the relations like Washington and Tokyo do. Russia and China are not official allies, and they do not have a tendency to creating alliances. The Russian and Chinese navies do not depend on anyone else, they act on their own and share no similarity with the Japanese-American alliance, in which the U.S. plays the dominant role.

China, Russia and North Korea vs. U.S., Japan and South Korea

Therefore, despite the drills being ‘joint’, China and Russia are nowhere near having the kind of coordination of military actions the U.S. and Japan have – neither from the point of view of strategy, nor tactic.

China and the U.S. have mutually beneficial relations and share deep economic cooperation. The differences between the U.S. and Russia, in their turn, no matter how strong they seem, do not reach the level that was during the Cold War.

Washington and Tokyo share similar views in many aspects, while the other ally of the U.S. – South Korea – prefers to take neutral position.

Therefore, it gives an idea of a possible allied conflict in the Asia-Pacific Region: it’s either the U.S.-Japan vs. China-Russia or the U.S.-Japan-South Korea vs. China-Russia-North Korea. There is no way North Korea is not going to be involved in such an alliance in case South Korea sides with Washington and Tokyo.

U.S. military build-up in Asia created China-Russia alliance

However, the military and political state of things in Eastern Asia is still confusing. But one thing is certain: the region is becoming the center of attraction, and it’s unclear what awaits for it in the nearest future.

This uncertainty worries the people of the region. The fact that the U.S. builds up its military presence in the region and strengthens its military alliances infuriates both China and Russia. That’s the reason why the two countries see it as their obligation to strengthen their own power and be prepared to counter Washington.

It must also be noted that it was the alliance between Washington and Tokyo that prompted Beijing and Moscow to start building up their military cooperation.

Both China and Russia are powerful countries, between which a comprehensive strategic cooperation and partnership exist. And even though such cooperation and partnership do not have the official ‘alliance’ status, it can still maintain balance and protect its interests in the Asia-Pacific Region.

If Beijing and Moscow decide to create an official alliance, it would completely change global strategic map, while the U.S. and Japan would face a real threat. There are already indications of the emergence of the world’s new superpower axis between China, Russia and Pakistan.

Such an alliance would be a true challenge for the next president of the United States to be elected in 2016.

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