Australia releases a big policy guidance paper on defence every few years. The latest, released last week, contains lots of interesting observations about the geopolitics of the region. It’s worth a read for people outside the region who want a taste of what’s happening. But one point made in passing is of interest to those handicapping the China-US power relations in years to come.
Resource insecurity is likely to grow in coming decades. Asia is expected to become 90 per cent dependent on imported oil by 2050, mostly from the Middle East. Once major exporters of oil and gas, ASEAN countries are now collectively net oil importers and within three decades may also become net importers of gas. Japan and the Republic of Korea have limited domestic supplies, rendering them vulnerable to major energy shocks. These changes are countered to some extent by the United States’ rapid change from being a net importer to a net energy exporter.
Also, worth bearing in mind, South Korea and Japan have almost none of the energy they need. China has about half. The US is on track to have more than it needs. Couple this will advances in technology and industry (these aren’t a done-deal by any means, but they’re heading that way), and while the US economy may be smaller, it will be more efficeint, productive, profitable and a magnet for the world’s talent because of its culture of the rule of law.
Anyway, more on this White Paper later.
To file under “cooler heads”.
Sec’y of State Hillary Clinton, looking smart in (new?) glasses after her stay in the hospital, reiterates the American position on the East China Sea island dispute. Basically, the US offers understated support for the Japanese position.
“Although the United States does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, we acknowledge they are under the administration of Japan,” said Clinton. “And we oppose any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration. And we urge all parties to take steps to prevent incidents and manage disagreements through peaceful means.”
From the transcript: With regard to regional security, I reiterated longstanding American policy on the Senkaku Islands and our treaty obligations.
Calm is a them with Japan too.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida:
“While Japan will not concede and will uphold our fundamental position that the Senkaku Islands are an inherent territory of Japan, we intend to respond calmly so as not to provoke China,” he said.
Also from the transcript:
I conveyed to Secretary Clinton that Japan very much values the commitment shown by the United States over the Senkaku Islands based on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the commitment that the United States will go against any unilateral action that will infringe upon the administration rights of Japan.
Now, over to China. What calm things will they say?
An important NYTimes article on Japan’s efforts to raise its security profile and links through Asia in response to China’s muscle flexing. It’s a fine line the Japanese walk with neighbors because of the events of the 20th Century. I’ll post more on this issue in the Japanese election when I get a chance.