A New Asian Security Constellation

NEW DELHI – Leading members of the governments of India and South Korea recently met to begin a new “strategic partnership.” They are not alone in doing so, for across Asia, a new security architecture is being constructed, seemingly piecemeal.

How Asia’s geopolitical landscape will evolve over the coming decades is not easy to foresee. But it is apparent that an increasingly assertive China is unwittingly reinforcing America’s role in Asia, restoring US primacy as the implicit guarantor of security and stability in the region.

There are at least four possible Asian security scenarios for the years and decades ahead. The first is the rise of a Sino-centric Asia. China seeks a multipolar world but a unipolar Asia. By contrast, the US desires a unipolar world but a multipolar Asia.

A second scenario is that the US remains Asia’s principal security anchor, with or without a third possibility: the emergence of a constellation of Asian states with common interests working together to ensure that Asia is not unipolar. Finally, Asia could come to be characterized by several resurgent powers, including Japan, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and a reunified Korea.