East Asia https://doi.org/10.1007/s12140-017-9280-3
Power Politics Behind the Transforming Geopolitics in East Asia Hochul Lee 1
Received: 9 September 2017 / Accepted: 15 November 2017 # Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017
Abstract Current geopolitical dynamics in East Asia is generated by the US rebalancing and China’s counterbalancing. The US rebalancing has so far ended in an encircling of China, whereas China counteracts to extend into the seas and the lands as typified by the Belt and Road Initiative and assertive activities in the South China Sea. China under Xi Jinping’s leadership has set up a new guideline of ‘great power foreign policy’ (大国外交) to realize Xi Jinping’s ambitious vision of ‘China dream’. As delivered in the ‘New Model of Great Power Relations’, China under Xi Jinping’s leadership seeks clearly for ‘regional dominance’, while for ‘global balance’ with the USA. With rebalancing, however, the USA seeks to restore power balance in East Asia by adding up to military and economic resources already deployed there. By doing so, the USA aims to achieve its strategic goal of ‘regional balance’, while maintaining ‘global dominance’. These two distinct strategic goals, regional dominance and global balance for China and regional balance and global dominance for the USA, interact to result in currently transforming geopolitics in East Asia. Keywords Geopolitics . US rebalancing . China’s counterbalancing . The South China Sea . The Belt and Road Initiative Geopolitical landscape is transforming in East Asia. Rising China is the initiator of moving geopolitics there. The US rebalancing and China’s counterbalancing are the major factors in generating geopolitical dynamics there. Accordingly, we examine below first how the USA is rebalancing and China is counterbalancing. Then, we ask what strategic goals the USA and China are trying to achieve through rebalancing and counterbalancing dynamics and what political logic is working behind the geopolitical dynamics in East Asia. * Hochul Lee [email protected]
The Institute of China Studies, Department of Political Science and International Studies, Incheon National University, 119 Academy-Ro Yeonsu-Gu, Incheon 22012, South Korea
China Rising China has been rising in terms of both economic and military power. In terms of economic power, China has achieved about 10% of growth rate annually for last four decades since the reform and opening. The engines of Chinese economic growth have been incoming foreign direct investment and outgoing exports. As a result, China’s foreign exchange reserve had reached almost 4 trillion US dollars at its peak in June 2014.1 It is predicted that China’s GDP will overtake the US GDP in a decade. In terms of military power, with an ever-expanding GDP, Chinese military expenditures have increased dramatically at a rate of over 10% in most years since the 1990s. As China rises, its interests also expand globally. To protect its expanding interests globally, China is actively strengthening its naval power from coast sea defense to open sea protection. According to the China’s Military Strategy of 2015, Chinese military is under transformation in all domains to implement the strategy of ‘active defense’ in the new security situation . The Chinese military has steadily absorbed sophisticated military technologies and developed advanced weapons in land, air, sea, and even space. As a result, China’s military power has been considerably transformed and significantly strengthened [12, 20].
The US Rebalancing In the fall of 2011, the Obama Administration announced a series of policies that the USA would be expanding and intensifying its role in Asia Pacific, known as ‘Pivot to Asia-Pacific’ or ‘Rebalancing toward Asia’ . Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, suggested a broad picture of rebalancing in Foreign Policy of October 2011 . According to former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, the USA is seeking to achieve a ‘stable security environment and a regional order rooted in economic openness, peaceful resolution of disputes, and respect for universal rights and freedoms’ through actions in five areas: strengthening alliances, deepening partnerships with emerging powers, building a stable, productive and constructive relationship with China, empowering regional institutions, and helping to build a regional economic architecture . As the CRS report points, the US rebalancing is based on a new strategic calculation that the center of US foreign policy, national security, and economic interests must now be realigned and shift toward Asia, and that US strategy and priorities need to be readjusted accordingly . However, the CRS report also points some risks of the rebalancing related to military budgetary constraints. Additionally, the report points that the perception inside and outside of China that the rebalancing is targeted against China could strengthen the position of Chinese hard-liners and could potentially make it more difficult for the USA to gain China’s cooperation on a range of global issues [14, 21].
However, the growth rate of Chinese economy has slowed down to below 7% since the global financial crisis in 2008. China’s foreign exchange reserve also fell to below 3.5 trillion US dollars as of November 2015. To respond to this ‘new normal’, China turned its growth strategy from export-oriented to demand-creating one.
The US rebalancing surfaced most apparently in strengthening its alliances in Asia Pacific.2 The US-Japan alliance has been strengthened by both Abe’s conservative drive and Obama’s rebalancing strategy. The US and Japan revised the Guidelines for USJapan Defense Cooperation in April 2015 and Japan enacted New Security Laws to support the revised guidelines in September 2015. 3 The revised guidelines and new security laws aim to strengthen the bilateral alliance into a more global one and to enable Japan’s Self Defense Forces to play a more active role in regional and international security activities. The US-Australia alliance has become even more important in terms of the US rebalance to Asia Pacific. Northern Australia is open toward both the western Pacific and Indian Ocean, occupying a vital geopolitical point in the US rebalancing strategy. Australia also shares an interest with the USA in maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea, including in the South China Sea . The two countries signed the US-Australia Force Posture Agreement at the annual Australia-US ministerial consultations (AUSMIN) in August 2014, by which the USA could increase rotational deployment of US marines and air force up to 2500 from already deployed 1150 in Darwin, northern Australia . As China rises as a regional and global power and the USA rebalances toward Asia Pacific, the South China Sea has emerged as a flashpoint in the region. China regards the South China Sea within the self-claimed nine-dash line as an inner sea calling it south sea (南海) and has built islands over the reefs in the Spratly Islands claiming territorial sea around them. But the USA and its allies do not recognize territorial sea of artificial islands and claim freedom of navigation and overflight in the Spratly Islands.4 Furthermore, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia also claim their sovereignty over and occupy several reefs in the Spratly Islands with continuing danger of military crashes. Given the geopolitical significance and strategic instability of the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands in particular, the US-Philippines alliance has emerged as a vital part of the US rebalancing strategy. Faced with increasing China’s assertive military activities in the South China Sea and Chinese Navy control of Scarborough Shoal (黄岩 岛), the Philippines also needed to strengthen the alliance with the USA. Two countries signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) in April 2014 that would give US troops and equipment wide access to Philippine military bases on a rotational basis . As a part of the EDCA, two countries announced the first five locations for the US military access in March 2016. Furthermore, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced the New Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) for Southeast Asia at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in May 2015. He clarified later that the USA would provide US$425 million for 5-year maritime security capacity-
The analysis of the US rebalancing is based on and revised from my earlier research in Korean . In spite of popular protests, Prime Minister Abe decided to reinterpret the constitutional provision to draw out the right of ‘collective self-defense’ as a way to implement ‘proactive pacifism’. 4 According to Article 60, Paragraph 8 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ‘artificial islands, installations, and structures do not possess the status of islands’. On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that there was no evidence proving China’s exclusive control over the waters and resources within the nine-dash line and that, therefore, China has no legal basis to claim ‘historical rights’ within the nine-dash line in the case brought by the Philippines. China rejected the ruling of the PCA . 3
building for Southeast Asian countries near the South China Sea, and most of the funding for the first year of the program would go to the Philippines . In the same vein, rising China and its increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea have created a converging strategic interest between the US and Vietnam. Vietnamese Navy already has fought skirmishes with Chinese Navy in Paracel Islands in 1974 and Spratly Islands in 1988. Since the USA and Vietnam agreed on a comprehensive partnership in July 2013 at Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang’s visit to the USA, the two sides have stepped up defense and security cooperation. After the two sides affirmed ‘considerable convergence of strategic interests’ regarding the South China Sea at General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to the USA in July 2015 , the USA lifted completely arms ban on Vietnam at President Obama’s visit to Vietnam in May 2016. Under the changing geopolitics in East Asia engendered by China rising and the US rebalancing, the US-Vietnam relations are evolving into a strategic partnership. The US-Indonesia relations have been also elevated to a strategic partnership at President Jokowi’s visit to the USA in October 2015, along with a joint statement on comprehensive defense cooperation. For the USA, Indonesia, the largest emerging power in Southeast Asia, was an important strategic partner in the rebalancing strategy. For Indonesia, defense cooperation with the US was instrumental in implementing its vision of Indonesia as a ‘global maritime fulcrum’ between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, though it is cautious not to be involved explicitly in the rebalancing . The Obama administration has also improved its relations with Myanmar, a longstanding strategic and economic partner with China. By lifting the sanctions imposed on Myanmar after the 1988 military crackdown, the USA supported political transition in and sought for security cooperation with Myanmar. Bilateral relations further warmed with landmark visits by President Obama to Rangoon in November 2012 and President Thein Sein to Washington in May 2013 . Behind the improving bilateral relations, there were increasing concerns about China’s ever-expanding infrastructure investment and exploitation of natural resources on the part of Myanmar . On the part of the USA, a critical rebalancing post has been established at geopolitically important area in the north of Southeast Asia. By strengthening its relations with Myanmar along with military cooperation with the Philippines, Singapore, and traditional ally Thailand, the USA has incorporated Southeast Asia as a central pillar in its rebalancing geopolitics. As China under Hu Jintao tried to break down the ‘Malacca Dilemma’ by constructing the ‘String of Pearls’ in the Indian Ocean and oil pipeline in Myanmar, and as China under Xi Jinping launched an ambitious project, the One Belt One Road, through the Indian Ocean and Central Asia toward Africa and Europe, the USA began to expand the rebalancing strategy toward India and Central Asia. Through the US President Barak Obama’s visit to New Delhi in January 2015 and subsequent visit by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in June 2015, the USA and India renewed a 10-year defense framework agreement, the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), by which both countries would work together closely to develop military capabilities . The USA and India leveled up further their military cooperation. After Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Washington in June 2016, both countries’ defense chiefs announced the signing of a logistics exchange agreement in August 2016, which will allow the USA and Indian navies to receive logistical support at each other’s
military installations. The tightening military cooperation between the USA and India is based on a strategic convergence of the USA reaching west in its rebalancing and India reaching east in its Act East policy under the condition of rising China . Central Asia has also emerged as geopolitically critical for the US rebalancing, where Russia has been a major security guarantor while China has been the dominant economic power. By inaugurating regular meetings with the five countries of Central Asia including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan in the C5+1 format in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in November 2015, the USA sought to deepen and broaden security and economic partnership with the five countries. 5 The second meeting of the C5+1 was held in Washington in August 2016. Through the C5+1 format, the USA seeks to expand the rebalancing geopolitics into Central Asia. The USA and Mongolia have held an annual multinational peacekeeping exercise, Khaan Quest, since 2003, that has developed into a key element of bilateral security relationship. Based on more than a decade-long military cooperation, the USA signed a joint statement to strengthen ‘partnership for security’ and ‘defense cooperation’ with Mongolia in April 2014 , by which the USA anchored another rebalancing post between China and Russia. For Mongolia, deepening security and defense cooperation with the USA is a part of the ‘third neighbor’ policy, designed to move away from overdependence on China and Russia . Whether to deploy the THAAD in the US army in South Korea has become a sensitive security issue in the middle of China rising and the US rebalancing. Korea cannot but decide the issue only in terms of whether the THAAD system is an effective defense system against increasing North Korean nuclear and missile threats. Nevertheless, China seems to consider the THAAD as a rebalancing measure to rising China, not just against North Korean nuclear and missile threats.6 The map below illustrates the geopolitics of the US rebalancing so far implemented (Fig. 1). Beginning with strengthening alliance with Australia and Japan, the US rebalancing has expanded into Southeast Asia, where engaging Myanmar with political and economic supports, crafting a comprehensive partnership with Vietnam, and leveling up defense cooperation with the Philippines and Indonesia. By reinforcing security and defense cooperation with Mongolia, the USA also anchored a rebalancing post between China and Russia. Recently, the USA rebalancing has further expanded into South and Central Asia, where initiating defense and logistics cooperation with India and launching the C5+1 meeting with five Central Asian countries. As the map below demonstrates, the end result of the US rebalancing so far is an encircling of China.7 5
Foreign ministers of the C5+1 countries issued the Joint Declaration of Partnership and Cooperation in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on 1 November, 2015. http://www.state.gov/secretary/travel/2015/t24/, accessed on 24 June, 2016. 6 China is concerned about the THAAD. When Chang Wanquan (常万全), Chinese National Defense Minister, visited South Korea in February 2015, he expressed China’s concerns about deploying THAAD in South Korea; Sun Jianguo (孙建国), Vice Chief of Staff of the PLA, remarked to Han Min-goo, South Korean Minister of National Defense, that deploying THAAD in the US army in South Korea might disturb the stability in the Korean peninsula. Chosun Ilbo, 1 June, 2015, A6. 7 This is to confirm what Shearman argued that Bthe real motive for Obama’s increased focus on Asia is to contain China^ . However, this study uses ‘encircle’ rather than ‘contain’ to catch geographically explicit end results without knowing the real intention.
Fig. 1 The Geopolitics of the US Rebalancing. Background map from: Perry-Castañeda Map Collection - UT Library Online, University of Texas Libraries - The University of Texas at Austin. http://www.lib.utexas. edu/maps/asia.html
China’s emergence as an ever-more influential regional power certainly must have been a factor that drove the USA to rebalance toward Asia Pacific. The USA is rebalancing not only the US diplomatic, military, and economic resources toward Asia Pacific but more fundamentally the distribution of power in Asia that is perceived to be disturbed by rising China. By installing rebalancing posts in geopolitically critical areas surrounding China, the US aims to restore a ‘power balance’ in Asia Pacific that has been breaking by rising China and consequently to prevent a regional hegemony.
China Counterbalancing Whether the USA intended or not, many Chinese leaders and experts believe that the US rebalancing is certainly targeted against China’s rising. So China under Xi Jinping’s leadership especially has pursued a counterbalancing strategy by which China tries to break the US encirclement of China to go out further by mobilizing diplomatic, economic, and military resources. China’s counterbalancing strategy is revealing most conspicuously in the the South China Sea and the Belt and Road Initiative.8 China’s counterbalancing is most striking in the seas. China’s Military Strategy released in May 2015 revealed ‘the strategic guideline of active defense’. To implement the active defense, China expanded the mission of the PLA Navy (PLAN) from ‘offshore waters defense’ to ‘open seas protection’ to protect its exploding overseas interests in particular . In spite of territorial disputes over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, China has created seven islets moving sediment from the seafloor to reefs (see Fig. 2). Over the created islets, China then has constructed docking facilities, communication facilities, military buildings, and airstrips (see Fig. 3). Recently, it is reported that China has built military defense systems ‘in the form of large anti-aircraft guns and probable close-in weapons systems (CIWS)’ over the built islets . Even though China is not the only country that has built islands and constructed facilities in the Spratly Islands, the scale and speed of China’s island building has alarmed other countries and strained geopolitical tensions with the US in particular. 9 Against China’s island building, the US has developed Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOP) since October 2015, sending navy destroyers within 12 nautical miles of built islands to demonstrate the freedom of navigation and overflight. The issue was discussed as a key topic at the summit meeting between Barack Obama and Xi Jinping in Washington, DC, in September 2015. The delegates from the USA and China to the 15th Asia Security Summit (the Shangri-La Dialogue) in Singapore in June 2016 also exchanged reproaches on China’s activities in the South China Sea. Barak Obama and Xi Jinping also exchanged their views on the issue at the G20 Summit Meeting in Hangzhou in September 2016. China’s activities in the Spratly Islands, first of all, seem to fortify its foothold there for territorial claims. Furthermore, those built islands occupying critical geopolitical locations in the South China Sea can be used to protect the critical sea lines of communication where most of China’s oil import passes through. More importantly, those islands could play the role of military outposts against increasing US military presence in the region in the rebalancing strategy. They could be a useful supplement to China’s anti-access, area-denial strategy (A2/AD) . After the Japanese government nationalized Diaoyu/ Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in September 2012, territorial disputes over the islands have been intensified. In the middle of disputes between China and Japan, the Chinese government declared its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over two thirds of the East China Sea including Diaoyu/ Senkaku Islands without any consultation with neighboring countries on November 23, 2013. China’s declaration of its ADIZ is a direct reaction to 8
The analysis on China’s counterbalancing is based on and revised from my earlier research in Korean . New York Times, 30 July, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-hasbeen-building-in-the-south-china-sea.html?_ r=0, accessed on 24 June, 2016. 9
Fig. 2 Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea. Sources: New York Times. http://www.nytimes. com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-building-in-the-south-china-sea.html?_r=0
Japan’s instigation of territorial disputes over the islands. However, it has a more profound strategic implication in implementing its A2/AD strategy to counteract to the US rebalancing in the East China Sea. 10 For the A2/AD strategy to succeed, the PLA Navy (PLAN) will have to pass through the first island chain (connecting Borneo, the Philippines, Taiwan, the Ryukyu Islands, and Japan) out into the Pacific Ocean. In the East China Sea, as a gateway to advance into the western Pacific, Diaoyu/ Senkaku Islands could be a critical strategic outpost that would play a decisive role in the A2/AD strategy . 10
According to South China Morning Post of 1 June, 2016, China is preparing another ADIZ over the South China Sea in the middle of intensifying tension with the US in the region. http://www.scmp. com/news/china/article/1960954/beijing-ready-impose-air-defence-identification-zone-south-china-sea, accessed on 24 June, 2016.
Fig. 3 Construction on Fiery Cross Reef (永暑礁). Sources: New York Times. http://www.nytimes. com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-building-in-the-south-china-sea.html?_r=0
Even before the Obama administration deployed the rebalancing strategy, China was expanding its military capabilities in the Indian Ocean to protect its maritime security in China’s critical sea lines of communication. After President Hu Jintao expressed his apprehension about the vulnerability of China’s maritime security in the Strait of Malacca (known as ‘Malacca Dilemma’) in 2003, China began to construct the ‘String of Pearls’ in the Indian Ocean connecting geopolitical key posts from Sittwe (Myanmar) and Chittagong (Bangladesh) through Hambantota (Sri Lanka) and to Gwadar (Pakistan). China has constructed port facilities over these key points with Chinese investment. The String of Pearls would allow the Chinese navy access to a series of ports extending from the South China Sea to the Arabian Sea . These sea ports would provide logistics support to the Chinese navy for extended naval deployments. In the same vein, to protect its energy security, China has completed an oil pipeline through Myanmar that would enable to transport oil directly from the Bay of
Bengal to Yunnan province of China cutting down the transportation distance by 3,000 km without passing through the Strait of Malacca. However, the concept of the String of Pearls seems to have been integrated into the new grand initiative of the ‘twenty-first Century Maritime Silk Road’ under Xi Jinping’s presidency. The concept of Maritime Silk Road first emerged during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Indonesia in October 2013. The Maritime Silk Road incorporates shipping routes to the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. In parallel, the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ incorporates overland routes to Central Asia, Russia, and Europe (see Fig. 4). The ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (一带一路) is an ambitious project for economic development with massive investment by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). It aims to construct an infrastructure network for connectivity and cooperation with neighboring and regional countries. For instance, as part of the Initiative, China plans to build 81,000 km (about 50,000 miles) of high-speed railway over 65 countries, more than the current world total . In the same vein, Chinese companies are purchasing infrastructure assets in Europe. China Everbright Group, a state-backed financial firm, bought into Albania’s Tirana International Airport, while China Cosco Shipping Corporation purchased Greece’s Piraeus Port in April 2016. It is also reported that Shanghai Yiqian Trading Company is to buy Frankfurt Hahn Airport in Germany.11 The Belt and Road Initiative and the AIIB, first of all, must be an economically motivated grand developmental project to boost China’s economic growth which slowed down since the global financial crisis in 2008. They also remark a transition in developmental strategy from export-oriented growth to demand-creating growth responding to the ‘New Normal’ with huge investment in constructing infrastructure network by the AIIB starting from the inner west of China toward westbound . Furthermore, to construct infrastructure network for connectivity with neighboring and regional countries, the Initiative and the AIIB inevitably would require a close economic and political cooperation with participating countries, which might be another important goal of the project. Therefore, the Initiative and the AIIB would not have been just economically motivated, but also strategically planned . They have been planned as geopolitical and strategic counteraction to the US rebalancing and encircling of China . The Initiative could be a strategic westbound exit out of the US encircling of China. Within such a strategic consideration, China is building its first overseas naval installation in the East African nation of Djibouti, located at a vital strategic point of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which are also critical geopolitical passages in the Maritime Silk Road .
Power Transition or Power Balancing? To sum up, current geopolitical dynamics in East Asia is generated by the US rebalancing and China’s counterbalancing. As we have seen, the US rebalancing has so far ended in an encircling of China, whereas China counteracts to break the encirclement out into the seas and the lands as typified by the Belt and Road Initiative 11
Reuters News at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-hahn-m-a-china-idUSKCN0YS1G1, accessed on 2 December, 2016.
Fig. 4 The Belt and Road Initiative. Source: Xinhua News Agency
and island building and militarization in the South China Sea. Then, through rebalancing and counterbalancing dynamics, what strategic goals do they pursue? What political logic is working behind this moving geopolitical dynamics in East Asia? Is East Asia in power transition or power balancing? Rising China has caused a lot of theoretical debates on the possibility and consequences of power transition between the USA and China [3, 9, 12, 15, 31]. The debates tend to converge on a prospect that a power transition between two countries at a global level will be a remote possibility though not impossible. Then, what about in East Asia? China before and after Xi Jinping is not the same in its foreign policy. China before Xi Jinping by and large had followed Deng Xiaoping’s guideline of taoguangyanghui (韬光养晦) or moderately yousuozuowei (有所作为) in its foreign policy. China after Xi Jinping, however, seems to have thrown them off and taken on a new guideline of ‘Chinese style great power diplomacy’ (大国外交) for proactive and assertive foreign policy to construct a new regional order of its own . Furthermore, Chinese leaders under Xi Jinping’s leadership seem to believe that a power transition at the regional level has been completed, especially in its relations with Japan. As most China specialists admit, a power transition between China and the USA at the global level is not likely to come by 2050 approximately [9, 12, 31]. But it is acceptable that China has overtaken Japan in terms of comprehensive national power [8, 22]. In consequence, Chinese leaders are trying to revise the current regional order that has been so far based upon the San Francisco Peace Treaty system and maintained by the USA . Therefore, whether Chinese leaders officially admit or not, China is moving forward to attain regional dominance or to be a regional hegemony revising gradually the San Francisco Peace Treaty system. These strategic intentions are implicitly incorporated in the New Model of Great Power Relations.
The idea of the New Model of Great Power Relations that Xi Jinping proposed to Barak Obama at their first summit meeting in Sunnylands Retreat in California early June 2013 seems to enclose such strategic intention behind the three key points of the New Model, i.e., no confrontation (不对抗), mutual respect (相互尊重), and win-win cooperation (合作共赢) [11, 36]. In other words, China is demanding that the USA now should recognize China’s strategic interests in the region under the condition of reshaping power relations caused by China rising, while China is willing to cooperate with the US for global issues as an equal partner. China under Xi Jinping leadership in particular seeks clearly for ‘regional dominance’, while for ‘global balance’ with the USA.12 However, the US hegemonic strategy would not allow any regional hegemony. This is why the US is led to rebalance power distribution in East Asia. Post-war power balance in East Asia, primarily constructed and maintained by the US, is breaking somehow by China rising. With the rebalancing strategy, the US seeks to restore power balance in East Asia by adding up military and economic resources to those already deployed there. By rebalancing, the USA aims to achieve its strategic goal of ‘regional balance’, while maintaining ‘global dominance’. These two distinct strategic goals, regional dominance, and global balance for China and regional balance and global dominance for the US, interact to result in currently transforming geopolitics in East Asia. Even under Donald Trump administration of the US and Xi Jinping’s second presidency, this geopolitical dynamics in East Asia will go on, while the geographical space of geopolitical game would expand more globally.13 Funding This study was supported by the research grant 2013 of Incheon National University.
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As a reviewer pointed out, China might aim to attain global dominance ultimately. Xi Jinping stressed China will be a socialist modern strong country by 2050 at the beginning address of the 19th Communist Party of China on October 25, 2017. However, many studies indicate that China’s comprehensive national power will reach a parity with the US around 2050, if China continues to rise as it has risen so far. 13 President Trump stressed a strategic cooperation with Japan in ‘Indo-Pacific’ extended from ‘Asia-Pacific’ at his visit to Japan in November 2017.
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