NEW DELHI – At a time when Asia is in transition, with the specter of a power imbalance looming large, it has become imperative to invest in institutionalized cooperation to reinforce the region’s strategic stability. After all, not only is Asia becoming the pivot of global geopolitical change, but Asian challenges are also playing into international strategic challenges.
Asia’s changing power dynamics are reflected in China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy, the new Japanese government’s demand for an “equal” relationship with the United States, and the sharpening Sino-Indian rivalry, which has led to renewed Himalayan border tensions.
All of this is highlighting America’s own challenges, which are being exacerbated by its eroding global economic preeminence and involvement in two overseas wars. Such challenges dictate greater US-China cooperation to ensure continued large capital inflows from China, as well as Chinese political support on difficult issues ranging from North Korea and Burma to Pakistan and Iran.
But, just when America’s Sino-centric Asia policy became noticeable, Japan put the US on notice that it cannot indefinitely remain a faithful servant of American policies. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s government is seeking to realign foreign policy and rework a 2006 deal for the basing of US military personnel on Okinawa. It also announced an end to its eight-year-old Indian Ocean refueling mission in support of the US-led war in Afghanistan.