National / Politics

China at center of growing security risks in East Asia: defense paper

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

China’s rapid military buildup and increasing assertiveness in the seas and skies made 2014 a “year of growing risks to security” in East Asia, the Defense Ministry’s core policy arm said Friday in its annual report.

“As the United States continuously plays the leading role in keeping the regional security order, it will be a critical task for neighboring countries to support regional peace and stability by urging China to conform with the international order based on international law and norms as well as to play a responsible role in the framework of free global economy,” the National Institute for Defense Studies said in the report.

The East Asian Strategic Review for 2015 listed the confrontations between China and Vietnam over maritime resource development and territory in the South China Sea as one example of growing risk.

As for the causes, the report mentioned the increasingly visible strategic conflicts between China and the United States in the South China Sea and the changing foreign policies of each nation in the region.

“Countries involved tend to take non-compromising positions on sovereignty issues to avoid any domestic political backlash,” it said.

Noting the relevant countries share recognition of the need for risk management, the report pointed out that they are still in the process of establishing a concrete system to that end, and building mutual trust.

As for China, the report said that Beijing is aiming to promote active and strategic diplomacy to its neighbors, with the aim of creating an East Asian regional order in which it plays the central role, while at the same time seeking to establish a new type of major-power ties with the U.S.

The world’s second-largest economy also wants to increase its influence over Asian countries “by taking the initiative in transport infrastructure development” with the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the report said.

“In addition, China has displayed its desire to build a new regional order based on broader and deeper economic cooperation” by advocating the launch of a “Silk Road Economic Belt” that will link the country with Europe via Central Asia, and an envisioned “21st century maritime Silk Road” covering Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa, it said.