Jeff Schubert, an Australian visiting professor at Moscow's Higher School of Economics discusses this topic.
"The White paper discusses the stationing of more US military personal in America, and a lot of the language in the document is concerned with containing China," Jeff explains. "China is becoming economically and militarily strong, it is becoming a threat to the rules based international order….That means the order of maritime security, and various institutions, which were established in the post-War period under the guidance of the US. So all this is about making sure that the prime position of the US in political and military terms is maintained in the face of what is sees as Chinese cavalier expansion."
All of this is somewhat difficult to understand because one of the reasons that Australia is doing relatively well these days is because China is next door. Jeff points out that China has sea routes in the South China Sea which it needs to protect, but some Australians, Jeff says, "particularly those in the security and defense establishments get emotional about this and say that we have to get America to stop China, and they are trying to bring in other countries including India."
This is reflected in the proposal of what is called the ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD).' Jeff explains: "The Chinese feel that their greatest problem is the threatening of the supply of energy imports, most of which pass through the Malacca Straights….China needs security in the Indian Ocean as well as the South China Sea to import energy….Exports can be replaced by demand from the internal market, but energy imports are crucial. Various policy makers in Australia the US and Japan have been pushing the idea that policy should not just about the Pacific but about the Indo-Pacific…."
Jeff suggests that India would be better off trying to come to some kind of security and trade understanding with China that such an approach could lead to lessening of international tensions in the area. The border disputes between the two countries is perhaps symptomatic of this. "I see India has a particularly strong bargaining tool here. India can dominate the Indian Ocean, which is crucial for Chinese imports." Jeff says. In geopolitical terms, India has become an extremely important country now, and host John Harrison asks if America is getting annoyed at Russia's continuing good relations with India. Jeff says: "I don't think that QUAD is related to Russia, it's definitely related to China. Australia, Japan and the US are looking at China. They do not necessarily understand the relationship between India and Russia and they do not necessarily understand how Eurasian countries see international relations. I am not a big fan of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) but at least there are signs that these countries wish to talk to each other."
QUAD is another sign that the East in general is not becoming the new center of international politics.
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