Chapter 1. Security Situation
/Section 1. Global Security Environment
Global security is still being influenced by diplomatic and military strategies and policies of the US. However, major countries and regional organizations such as the PRC, EU, Russia, India, and Japan have also been expanding their influence in both global and regional affairs. US influence, in particular, is facing increasing challenges from the PRC. The overall state of global security is currently under the major influence of regional developments directed by major powers. Medium to small countries will employ geopolitical conditions, resource advantages, as well as economic and commercial interaction to expand their own influence to ensure both the survival and growth of their countries.
( I ) The People's Republic of China
For the past 2 years, domestic policies of the PRC are still focused upon the leading directives of maintaining economic growth, internal stability, fighting corruption, enhancing governmental ethics, and strengthening the political leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. The PRC also recently established the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms and the Central National Security Commission, both chaired by Xi Jinping with Li Keqiang serving as the deputy. This move has been enacted to bolster the Xi-Li Administration, unify executive powers, and grant the PRC leadership with the ability to respond quickly against domestic and global security threats.
The PRC is also adopting the military strategic guideline of active defense that emphasizes those core interests of safeguarding national sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity, and national unity. In managing sovereignty disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea, the PRC claims to adopt soft measures such as strengthening of communication, cooperation, and mutual interests, however, it also emphasizes its stance of no preemption but with assured counterattack to express its determination in the defense of territories and sovereignty.
For diplomatic policies, Xi affirmed the country's neighborhood diplomacy directives at the Peripheral Diplomacy Work Conference and the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs in October 2013 and November 2014, respectively, insisting upon a policy that fosters an amicable, secure, and prosperous neighborhood environment. The PRC has also undertaken active participation in regional economic cooperation, such as moves to accelerate infrastructure and facility interconnectivity and integration as well as the One Belt, One Road strategy aiming at creating a tight-knit mutual interest network with neighboring countries that spread westwards into the Atlantic and southwards to the Indian Ocean, securing PRC's leading role upon the global stage.
In its engagement with the US, the PRC has repeatedly emphasized its willingness to build a New Model of Major Power Relations with the US. However, disagreements between both sides still persist regarding issues of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, compliance with international laws, cyber and information security, human rights, and other issues (such as issues related to Ukraine and North Korea). Strategic coopetition relations between the US and the PRC are expected to impact the strategic development direction of major countries around the world.
( II ) Northeast Asia
1. Korean Peninsula
Since Kim Jong-un assumed party, political, and military leadership in North Korea in April 2012, he has continued the Songun (military first) policy and carried out ballistic missile tests in 2014 and 2015, once again raising the tensions between North Korea and other countries such as Japan, South Korea, and the US.
In order to response to North Korean provocations, South Korea has maintained its defense policy of deepening alliance and enhancing military cooperation with the US. Since 2011, South Korea has established regular Defense Strategic Dialogue with the PRC, enhanced multilateral cooperation through military training and senior level exchanges, and at the same time urged North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks in order to reduce the possibility of military provocations by North Korea.
The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe retook the reins of his country's politics in December 2012 and ushered in a series of political and economic initiatives such as Abenomics and Active Pacifism. The Cabinet of Japan passed three new documents governing Japan's diplomacy and security policies, namely the National Defense Program Guidelines, Medium Term Defense Program (FY2014 – FY2018), and National Security Strategy in December 2013. The Cabinet further abolished the Three Principles on Arms Exports and replaced it with the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology in April 2014. In July of the same year, Abe lifted restrictions on the right of collective self-defense by proposing the government's view on Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, replacing the Three Conditions for Exercising the Right of Self-Defense with Three Conditions for the "Use of Force". Such measures have dissolved the restrictions that only permitted the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to conduct individual self-defense since its establishment in 1954.
Abe's Cabinet implemented measures to revise the Law Concerning Measures to Ensure Peace and Security of Japan in Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan by abandoning the definition for surrounding that have been in use for many years. It was replaced with the concept of important influential situations in order to rename the above-mentioned law to the Law Concerning Measures to Ensure Peace and Security of Japan in Situations that will Have an Important Influence on Japan's Peace and Security, so as to lift the restrictions upon JSDF geographical range of operations and allow the JSDF to accompany the US armed forces in joint operations around the world. Abe's Cabinet is also aimed to establish the International Peace Support Law, so that JSDF forces dispatched to support global counter-terrorism operations are governed by common law instead of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law. This measure is expected to solidify US-Japan alliance, sending far-reaching impacts to the balance of power in the Asia Pacific region and even the Taiwan Strait.
Relations between the PRC and Japan plummeted to a new low after Japan issued a unilateral declaration on the nationalization of the Diaoyutai Islands in 2012. Leaders of both countries have reached a four-point consensus on the handling of the Diaoyutai Islands dispute at the 2014 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which potentially suggests a gradual ease of tension between the two countries. However, both the PRC and Japan have continued to increase their military forces and intensity of maritime patrols. Future aircraft and vessels standoffs between the two countries in the East China Sea as well as confrontations arising from the defense of territorial waters are still likely to occur.
1.2.The Philippines, in response to conventional and unconventional security threats, have continued to participate in multinational joint operational exercises such as Cobra Gold and RIMPAC with the US with the hopes of improving its regional joint defense capabilities. (Source: US navy)
3.The PRC is promoting the establishment of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, further improving the relations in both countries. The picture shows PAC JF-17 Thunder jointly developed by the PRC and Pakistan. (Source: Zhuhai Airshow)
( III ) Southeast Asia
Recently, Southeast Asian countries have been pursuing ASEAN Integration with the objective of completing economic, social, cultural, and security integration by December 2015. This will create one of the largest emerging markets in the world with vast labor and mineral resources as well as market potential. The Strait of Malacca and South China Sea also serve as critical navigational routes between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, thus making the region highly contested by the world's superpowers. In addition to territorial disputes, other sources of confrontation such as historical issues, religious discrimination, and demands for ethnic autonomy are still rife in this region, and would be another source of regional instability.
Southeast Asian countries are increasingly focused upon safeguarding their maritime rights and interests. Many countries have increased national defense budgets to drive military modernization and strengthen their naval and air force capabilities. The ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) has also been established as a platform for building regional multilateral cooperation frameworks. Southeast Asian countries also continue to participate in joint operational exercises led by the US in order to promote joint defense capabilities.
( IV ) South Asia
India is located in the hub of South Asia and has significant regional strategic advantages. India's economic growth in recent years has allowed it to expand its national defense budget. The country is thus procuring armaments from the US, Russia, and France. This is especially true after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India in 2014. Modi emphasized the need to improve the self-sufficiency of national defense potential, upgrade armaments to improve overall military capabilities, and shape India into a major political, economic, and military power in South Asia. The PRC's One Belt, One Road strategy has made plans to extend the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to Nepal while strengthening political and military ties with Pakistan and Afghanistan to intervene in South Asian affairs. Such moves have reduced India's leadership and freedom to engage in regional affairs.
Continuing border conflicts between Pakistan and India in recent years have led to stagnant relations between the two countries. The PRC, however, is engaged in the establishment of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, and have made plans to establish Gwadar Port in Pakistan as its key strategic base in the String of Pearls Strategy. There are concerns that this move may disrupt the strategic balance in South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
( V ) Middle East
As a result of the withdrawal of US and NATO forces, emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist organization, ethnic disputes, Syrian Civil War, and conflicts between Israel and Hamas, the Middle East has remained a key focus of global security concerns. Nevertheless, A preliminary framework agreement has been reached regarding Iran's nuclear issue, helping to promote regional stability. With military support from the US and its allies, Iraq has gradually suppressed internal rebel forces. However, the country must still deal with conflicts arising from its religious sects and ethnicities. Recently, the joint military force created by the Arab League has carried out combined attacks against the Yemeni rebels, hoping to achieve greater military gains.
( I ) European Union (EU)
EU is facing multiple challenges in the form of politics, economics, diplomacy, and security issues highlighted by worsening EU-Russia relations as a result of the Ukrainian Crisis, attacks against France launched by Islamic State extremist terrorist organization, the Greek government debt crisis and anti-austerity policies, Britain's intention to leave the EU by referendum, as well as impacts on EU immigration policies and Mediterranean coastal defense as it faces refugees fleeing North Africa and Syria. Despite these challenges, EU member states are still working together, initiating security, military, and economic partnerships to ensure regional peace and stability.
( II ) Russia
By carrying out military intervention of Ukrainian domestic politics, Russia is now under economic sanctions imposed by various European countries and the US, a move that is further compounded by falling gas prices, which have led to the collapse of the Russian Ruble and the country's economy. Faced with such challenges, Russia's strategic and collaborative partnership with the PRC has grown closer. Russia is also expanding economic and trade relationships with other countries in order to alleviate the financial crisis brought about by the Western sanctions.
III. The Americas
( I ) The United States of America
The “National Security Strategy 2015” of the Obama Administration responds to the current state of global affairs by emphasizing the need to sustain economic growth, combat terrorism, and maintain international order. It also points out the needs to address arresting global climate changes, fighting pandemics and security issues in the cyberspace, airspace, and maritime, and aspires to maintain the global leadership of the US.
In 1 July 2015, the US Department of Defense released the National Military Strategy of the United States of America, which points to the serious security concerns posed by the PRC, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Nevertheless, the US has continued to invest in a substantial military-to-military relationship with the PRC and remained ready to engage Russia in areas of common interest, in an attempt to encourage military transparency of the two countries and reduce the potential for miscalculation.
As part of the Asia-Pacific Rebalance strategy, the US has continued to employ political and economic cooperation and regular multinational military exercises, such as Cobra Gold, CARAT, and RIMPAC and station its forces in Singapore, the Philippines, and Australia to strengthen its ties with its Asia Pacific allies, improve its relations with other countries, such as India, Vietnam, Malaysia, and maintain its leadership role for Asia Pacific stability and development.
( II ) Central and South America
Illegal multinational economic activities, organized crime, and smuggling of narcotics have remained the leading issues affecting security in this region.
However, the PRC has drastically increased its investments in South American countries in recent years due to the region's wealth of energy and food resources. South American countries are also pursuing socialist reformation and policies, and they are therefore dependent on the PRC for material and economic support, highlighting the increased standing and importance of the PRC in the region. As the PRC has begun to exert its influence in the backyard of the US, the US have thus recently reestablished formal relations with Cuba while improving its ties with other countries, such as Guatemala and Venezuela to strengthen its influences in Central and South America.
Despite being an ally of the US and playing a crucial role in the Asia-Pacific Rebalance strategy, Australia is compelled economically to expand its Mainland Chinese market. Hence, while Australia has agreed to allow US military garrisons and its participation in military cooperation, it has also maintained close economic and trade cooperation with the PRC, striking a balanced relationship with both the US and the PRC.
Security environments in the South Pacific are relatively stable. Various countries in the region are employing international collaboration opportunities to support resource development and maintain economic growth. However, rising sea levels caused by global warming is also influencing the survival and development of these countries.
Overall regional security issues in Africa in the last 2 years include political unrest, ethnic warfare, religious conflicts, border disputes, piracy, and terrorist attacks. As the continent has plenty of natural resources, countries and organizations, such as the US, Russia, the PRC, Japan, and the EU, are involved in the affairs of African countries to ensure the proper protection of their strategic resources. The PRC has taken particular focus upon its strategic deployment in Africa, investing in the region and providing economic support. The US has also recently increased its aid to African countries, signing a Cooperation Agreement with countries of the East African Community. Strategic competition between the US and the PRC in Africa is likely to intensify in the future.