Despite its strategic location, the Gwadar port is not as attractive as the ones in Karachi and Ormara, nor does Islamabad seem interested in a permanent Chinese naval presence.
Tokyo could reach out to other countries within the Indo-Pacific region that share its concerns regarding Beijing. Excluding extra-regional powers, but including China in the forum would enable progress on rules for economic activity, navigation and exercises in the region.
There are good reasons to leave states to resolve things bilaterally. Instead, the code should bind China and Asean into good behaviours: respecting the status quo and refraining from military activity.
To counter Taiwanese pro-independence and foreign forces, Beijing is developing three strategies: demonstrating conventional and cyber warfare capabilities to deter the US; moving to engage in dialogue with regional US allies; and utilising economic statecraft.
Biden may be distracted by debt ceiling talks but in the Indo-Pacific, Japan still bears the torch for US interests along with Australia, with the South Asia strategy outsourced to India.
China’s strong economic ties and a weak, unfocused Asean favour the expansion of its defence network. But its disregard for international law, particularly the 2016 South China Sea ruling, will make it hard to build trust
China and Asean claimants could draw inspiration from the four-point formula Pakistan used to try to resolve its Kashmir stalemate with India. This would involve agreeing on shared sovereignty and joint economic development, with a binding code of conduct the goal, and eventual settlement of disputes an added bonus.
From the South China Sea to Indian border, China’s actions in its backyard are raising eyebrows even as it slams hegemony and calls for a multilateral security order. Instead of imposing its view on the neighbourhood, China should engage in dialogue and diplomacy.
The way the submarine deal is structured sets a bad precedent of supplying a non-nuclear weapon state and NPT member with weapons-grade fuel. If the Aukus partners want to set good standards for non-proliferation, they should expand IAEA safeguards or abandon using nuclear submarine technology.
The success of virtual nuclear testing has set the stage for ratification of the nuclear test ban treaty, but India still wants to conduct nuclear tests. A breach of norms against testing should invite universal condemnation and punitive action, and not be enabled by a waiver of sanctions.
By making its vaccines available to a large swathe of the developing world, China has presented itself as a responsible global power, in stark contrast to the rich West. The US’ aloof attitude towards Asean has also left a void for China to fill.