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文章标题:The Effects of Asia’s Overall Rise
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The Effects of Asia’s Overall Rise

Gao Zugui[1]

    Since the beginning of the 2lst century, progress in economic globalization and regional integration has developed sustainably, and the shift of international forces has evolved constantly. Tremendous changes in global patterns have continued to grow more pronouncedly, especially under the synergetic effects of 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, the Iraq war, the global financial crisis, great changes in the Middle East and a series of other major events. Among these changes, the overall rise of the Asian geographic plate - including Asia and its associated Western Pacific and Indian Ocean——has been particularly prominent. New trends have been emerging continuously, and the power and effects generated by these changes have been constantly changing and releasing.

The Trend of Asia's Overall Rise Has Become Prominent

    From a comprehensive perspective, the overall rise of Asia not only includes the geostrategic uplift of the plate and the promotion of its politics, economics, military strength and international influence, but also the mutual support of several Asian countries, who have achieved remarkable development in recent years. As a major trend of the shifting world pattern, the overall rise of Asia

can be defined from the longitudinal and horizontal dimensions of global development.

On the longitudinal dimension, the overall rise of Asia reflects the improvements of a large number of developing countries in Asia. After realizing national liberations and political independence during the National Independence Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, these countries availed themselves of the opportunity to pursue economic globalization, which has spawned the global flow of capital and technology, the global expansion of industries and the global development of trade. Finally, it has realized the promotion of economic development and political influence. From such a perspective, the starting point of Asia's overall rise should be the rapid development and industrialization of the so-called “Four Asian Tigers” (South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan) in the 1980s, and then the high-speed growth of theTiger Cub Economies(Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines) in the 1990s. Entering the 2lst century, especially after the financial crisis in 2008, China, India, Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and other big and middle powers have also developed rapidly. These countries elevated themselves on multiple levels, including economics, politics and military, but economic development is now reflected most prominently. By the end of 2013, there were four Asian countries that entered into the ranks of the top ten GDP countries in the world, and the scale of Asia's economy now amounts to one-third of the world[2]. According to predictions by the Asian Development Bank, the proportion of Asian economies in the world will rise to 44 percent in 2035, and this trend will continue to rise to 52 percent in 2050.[3]

On the horizontal dimension, Asia's overall rise is comparable to the rise of Europe after the first Industrial Revolution, the rise of North America after the First World War and the changes that took place after the 2008 financial crisis, which brought down the comprehensive strength and international influence of the United States and Europe. In other words, the long-occupied aggressive status of the United States and Europe is weakening, and the overall rise of Asia appears more highlighted, and its impact upon the world seems more intense.

    Facing the rise of Asia from both longitudinal and horizontal dimensions, major countries outside of the region have increased the attention they put on Asia. In order to control the curved strip that stretches from the Western Pacific to East Asia and further dominate all of Asia and maintain its global leadership position, the United States has carried out “rebalancing”and its “Asia Pacific Axis” strategy between the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region. On the one hand, the United States government has moderately reduced its overextended forces in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars without entirely leaving the region. On the other hand, the United States also has pl,";9d'increasing attention on the Asia Pacific region to reassure that its presence and dominance in the region will not be seriously weakened. It has particularly strengthened its deployment of forces in the connecting regions——Central and Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific in order to form strong strategic hubs. To this end, the Obama administration has continued to increase its input in Asia and its promotion of the “New Silk Road” initiative to build a trade and energy cooperation mechanism with Afghanistan at its core, covering Central Asian countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh so as to maintain sufficient influence in the area after it withdraws its troops in 2014. At the same time, the United States also promotes diplomatic ties, economic and trade exchanges and security cooperation with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and other countries, and it is searching to further reactivate its security alliance with Thailand and make improvements in its relations with Myanmar and Laos.

    Stimulated and promoted by the adjustment of American strategy, the European Union, Australia and other major forces strengthened their relations with Asian countries. “The Strategy of 2020” released by the EU stressed building good relationships with Asian countries. Britain, France, Germany and other European countries have been paying more attention to and continuously pushing for better relations with Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The Abbott government, which came to power in September 2013, has taken a clear-cut stand that Australia will put relations with Asia as its priority. The Australian Prime Minister thought that decisions that affect national interests would be generated in Jakarta, Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul.[4]

Interactions Inside Asia Have Continued to Strengthen

    Given Asia's rise, the interaction between different levels and different areas inside Asia has also been enhanced significantly. This not only constitutes an important endogenous support and internal drive for Asia's rise. It is also an effect of Asia's overall rise. Among the various interactions between different levels and different areas inside of Asia, there are five main sub-regional cooperation mechanisms playing prominent and influential roles. Located in different areas and focused on distinct features, these five mechanisms promote sub-regional cooperation, accelerate interactions inside of Asia and also enhance the overall rise of the entire plate.

    Firstly, ASEAN countries are continuing their integration process and developing towards further Asian integration. In 2007, ASEAN formulated the “ASEAN Charter”. According to the charter, ASEAN countries are now more focused on enhancing connections and improving their overall strength and international status, and then gradually advancing to the objective of establishing an ASEAN Community with security, a stable economy and socio-cultural strength as its pillars by 2015. In April and November 2012, ASEAN's two summit meeting passed a series of important documents such as the “Phnom Penh Statement”, the “Presidential Declaration”, the “Phnom Penh Agenda”, the “Declaration on Building a Drug-free Zone by 2015”, the “Concept Paper of Global Moderate Action”, the “ASEAN Human Rights Declaration”, the “Midterm Review Report on the Establishment of ASEAN Socio-cultural Community”, the “Declaration on the Elimination Violence Against Women and Children”, the “Declaration on Encouraging the Young to Start or Get a Career”. At the same time, ASEAN also launched an “Institute for Peace and Reconciliation” aimed at maintaining regional peace and stability within ASEAN, determined to set a ASEAN Mine-Clearance Action Center in Cambodia and set December 31 2014 as the deadline for the establishment of an ASEAN Community. ASEAN countries are aiming to build a single market with 600 million people, balanced development and a competitive economy that is highly integrated into the global economy, and then further realize the establishment of an ASEAN Community with security, a stable economy and socio-cultural strength as its three pillars.

    Secondly, the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has promoted regional integration and enhanced outward radiation abilities. If the founding and promotion of the RCEP connected Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Oceania more closely, then the SCO is promoting the connection between East Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. Since its establishment in 2001, the SCO has formed a four-level framework composed of full members, observers, dialogue partners and presidential guests. On September 13, 2013, the SCO clearly pointed out at the Heads of State Council that the SCO will effectively deal with all kinds of global threats. And challenges to ensure sustainable social and economic development in this region, especially focusing on improving the legal basis for conducting cooperation targeted at transnational organized crime, illicit drug trafficking, psychotropic substances and their precursors, the smuggling of weapons, ammunition and explosives, information security threats, illegal immigration, and effectively implementing relevant cooperation agreements. In April, China proposed that the SCO establish a new anti-terrorism center within the SCO framework, and Russia expressed full support for China's initiative. With the implementation of these agendas, interaction inside of the SCO will be further enhanced.

   Thirdly, the status and role of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has improved greatly and promoted cooperation between the Middle East and East Asia. The political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East has evolved continually, and within this context, member states from the GCC have not only maintained stability by virtue of their strong economies, mutual support and political, economic and social reforms, bur also enlarged the council at their convenience, further enhanced integration and actively exerted influence on wider trends across all of Western Asia. All of these events elevated the status of the GCC significantly. In March 2014, the 130th GCC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia determined to restart the foreign trade zone negotiations, including negotiations with China and Japan. If this process makes headway, interactions between the Middle East and East Asia will be enhanced greatly.

Fourthly, the implementation of the “New Silk Road” proposed by the United States has enhanced connectivity across South and Central Asia. The “New Silk Road” aims to build a sub-regional cooperation mechanism with Afghanistan at its core, covering South Asian countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh so as to hasten connections between South and Central Asia and reestablish Afghanistan’s historic role at the crossroads of Eurasia. By this way, the United States could realize its vision of building a regional economic integration mechanism from East Asia through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey and eventually to Europe, which is supported and even led by the United States and India[5]. The “New Silk Road” mainly carries out two aspects: building connectivity of transportation, communications, energy infrastructure across South and Central Asia; and connecting with East Asia, the Middle East and the Europe. The other aspect is building connectivity between rules, laws and agreements in trade, transportation and communications so as to ensure that goods and services can circulate effectively, and the rich oil and gas and hydropower resources in Central Asia can help meet the growing demand for energy in South Asia. In 2014, while the United States is speeding up its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the Obama administration will continue to view South and Central Asia as a whole to integrate the “New Silk Road” strategy and its withdrawal arrangements.

    Fifth, the Eurasia Economic Community (EEC) will boost cooperation inside the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). According to Russian President Vladimir Putin's plan, the community, like the European Union, should be a super-national body made up of member states from the former Soviet Union, and a body that can be joined by surrounding countries and aims to connect Europe and the Asia Pacific region and coordinate economic and monetary policies between member states. Based on a customs union that was established between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in 2012, the mechanism kicked off a new phase of integration on the basis of WTO principles and standards, with the aim being to establish a unified economic space by January l, 2015. The space, which is expected to be open to other countries, will ultimately facilitate the establishment of a Eurasian economic union with a unified political, economic, military, customs and cultural space. On November 20, an EEC council meeting was held in Moscow and delegates were invited from Ukraine, Kyrgyzstanm and Armenia, in addition to representatives from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, its three founding countries. The meeting passed a roadmap concerning Kyrgyzstan joining the tariff union and decided to set up a working group for the admission of Armenia to start the preparation of Armenia’s membership roadmap. According to Russia's foreign policy concept, the mechanism will ultimately be forged into a common economic and cultural space that extends from Lisbon, Portugal to Vladivostok and goes beyond the EEC. For this purpose, Putin advocated discussions about the feasibility of setting up Free Trade Zone between-the EU and EEC at the Russia-EU summit held in Brussels in January 2014. In the context of the Ukrainian crisis and intensified power struggles between Russia and the United States, the implementation and advancement of Putin’s concept will be severely tested.

    The five mechanisms mainly stress cooperation from the economic field, but also involve politics, security and other aspects. Along with the Silk Road Economic zone and the Maritime Silk Road concept put forward by China, as well as the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor and the China-Pakistan economic corridor, the five mechanisms, which cover Southeast, Central, West and South Asia and traverse the Eurasian continent, will help promote interaction between Asian countries. In spite of differences in their fields of cooperation and interaction, the mechanisms generally concentrate interaction on five fields——namely, high-level political meetings and consultations, interconnection of infrastructure, trade and investment exchanges, military and security cooperation and cultural and social exchanges. If advanced smoothly, these factors could become the Five major bonds tying together Asia's internal cooperation. Among these, the one with the most direct influence is the economy. Since the beginning of the 2lst century, trade volume within the region has grown from 800 billion USD to  3 trillion USD, with a trade interdependence ratio that reaches above 50 percent. The number of free trade agreements signed within the region increased from 70 in 2002 to more than 250 in early 2013, making it the most active region in the world in terms of FTA establishment. For many regional countries, 80 percent of foreign visitors come from inside Asia.

Among these, what is most eye-catching and has the strongest traction and farthest-reaching influence on regional patterns is the interconnection of infrastructure. Currently, there are already three railways plus three oil and gas pipe ways that traverse Eurasia. The first Eurasian Land Bridge links Vladivostok to Rotterdam, traversing Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands with a total length of 13,000 kilometers. The second Eurasia Land Bridge——10,900 kilometers in length——starts from China's Lianyungang port in the east and reaches Rotterdam in the west, after crossing Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany. The third Eurasia Land Bridge, which starts from Chongqing and goes through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany before ending in Antwerp, Belgium——with a total length of 11,381 kilometers——serves as the main international railway linking Chongqing and Xinjiang to Europe. The pipeline network that has already been constructed can be divided into three parts, with the first one linking former Soviet members and the second starting from Skovorodino, Russia and ending in Daqing, China. The China-Russia pipeline 1,000 kilometers in length——started supplying oil in January 2011 and supplies China with is million tons of crude oil annually for a contracted term of 20 years. The third part of the pipeline network is the natural gas pipeline linking China to Kazakhstan.

There are some other cross-border infrastructure programs to be constructed, including the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) oil and gas pipelines, which is designed by the United States as part of its “New Silk Road” strategy; the C and D sections of the natural gas pipeline that connects China to Central Asia, proposed by President Xi Jinping during his visit to Turkmenistan in September 2013; the oil and gas pipeline advocated by Russian President Vladimir Putin to extend from Russia to North Korea, South Korea and even Japan; the China- Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway; and the reconstruction of the China-Pakistan Karakoran Highway, which was confirmed by President Xi Jinping and Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain in February, 2014. Like blood veins, these crisscrossing infrastructure lines will also ceaselessly bring people closer together and cultivate a shared sense of a community.

Increased Complexity of Regional Patterns

    From a global perspective, the world’s power center is further shifting towards Asia and the importance of Asia and the Pacific is becoming increasingly prominent. Looking into the 2lst century, the Asia Pacific will play an important role in the future global system, just as William Burns, deputy United States Secretary of State, pointed out at the Asia Society in April 2014. The region is crucial to the entire world, given that there are more and more eastward oil exports from the Gulf region and the fact that the economic recovery of European countries is increasingly closely linked to Asia's economic growth. At the same time, the region faces some major challenges, ranging from military buildups and maritime disputes to nuclear proliferation, deteriorating environmental issues and rising nationalist sentiments.[6]

    From a regional perspective, development in the region has resulted in the fragmentations of certain zones and thus made the complexity and uncertainty of the regional pattern more outstanding.

    First, power struggles and interventions from the outside have become increasingly common and evident. The increased involvement of the United States, Europe and other outside forces has to a certain extent propelled the rise of Asia, bur in the long run this will hamper the integration and interaction process because outside forces are only seeking to claim the dividends of Asia's rise. The United States and Europe are weakening Asian countries' efforts to achieve internal cohesion by putting forward various partnerships between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Central Asian countries. Besides, the United States’ attempts to strengthen ties with Asia Pacific allies under its “rebalancing” policy framework and forcibly advance the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have not only added uncertainty to Asia's integration and but also hampered South Korea, Japan, the Philippines even Australia from getting closer to the rest of Asia, a development that will weaken planned Asian integration. Under these external influences, countries in outer Asia have also tried to strengthen their links with the outside world while advancing relations with countries within the region. This has to some extent weakened Asia’s internal interaction while simultaneously increasing the weight of these outlying countries. Typical examples include the increased weight of Kazakhstan in Central Asia, Turkey in Central Asia, and Indonesia in Southeast Asia. Multi-directional diplomacy put forward by these countries has to a certain degree distracted the direction of Asia's rise as a whole. Against this backdrop, the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans have received growing attention from relevant countries, a development that has curbed cooperation between Asia’s oceanic and land countries while promoting internal interaction and its rise as a whole.

   Second, regional cooperation regimes have produced negative effects. The existence of multiple cooperation mechanisms in Asia has accelerated Asia's rise, but their interweaving, mutual competition has also exhausted energy and weakened internal forces that could prop up its rise. While promoting internal interaction from different angles and layers, various mechanisms within Asia have objectively resulted in mutual constraints. All competing for dominance in the Asia Pacific, the United States, Russia, Japan and India have successively put forward their own strategies to forge sub-regional cooperative mechanisms. Typical examples are the United States’ continued efforts to strengthen political, economic and military ties with ASEAN, Russia’s efforts to enhance economic and security relations with India, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea, Japan’s continuous attempts to advance economic and security relations with ASEAN, the Middle East and Central Asia, and India’s steps to strengthen ties with Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia and Iran. While promoting sub-regional integration, such cooperative mechanisms, due to their competing and conflicting strategic targets, have been obstructed and weakened in their attempts to develop into cross-regional mechanisms. Asia’s integration and interactive mechanisms will face strong restraints if major countries in the region are unable to hold overall perspectives, seek major common ground while shelving minor differences, and actively explore the mutual opening-up, complementarity, common prosperity and mutual blending of various sub-regional cooperative mechanisms.

    Last but not least, regional challenges have put Asia’s build-up and rise to a severe test. Various hot spot issues have long plagued Asia, and five of these are yet to be resolved. After a third nuclear test, North Korea officially adopted a strategy of emphasizing economic development while building up its nuclear and missile capabilities, a strategy that has superficially eased tensions in the region bur actually heightening risks. Facing presidential elections and the United States’ withdrawal, the reconstruction of Afghanistan is now entering a new stage. In the Middle East, Iran and the United States realized a historical breakthrough in their negotiations in November 2013, but uncertainties remain, especially as to whether a permanent agreement will be reached by July 2014. There is not end in sight for the Syrian crisis after the failure of two rounds of political negotiations between the incumbent government and opposition forces. Israel and Palestine have talked over ten times since July 2013 but it remains unclear whether an agreement can possibly be reached in 2014. These hot issues have promoted cooperation between countries concerned but could cause serious impacts to the peaceful development of their respective regions if they are not properly handled. Besides the above mentioned hot spot issues, disputes between China and Japan over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands and China's territorial disputes with some Southeast Asian nations also pose some risks to the region. If relevant countries continue to cling to their zero-sum thinking and utilize these issues as geopolitical tools to contain their competitors, then they will sabotage regional stability and severely hamper the rise of Asia as a whole.

    While raising Asia’s status and weight in the world, the above-mentioned factors have also added difficulties to internal integration and prevented the rise of Asia from making substantial progresses. The rise of Asia will depend on whether fragmentation can be prevented and whether cooperation between sub-regional countries can be integrated to enhance a joint force to drive the region as a whole.

Conclusion

    A growing China provides a major impetus for the rise of Asia as a whole. In return, China is also under the influence Asia’s overall rise. The sustained increase of China’s overall strength and the interactions and integration within the region are increasingly centered on China. China is playing an increasingly prominent role in accelerating intra-regional interactions and integration. The region bestowed China with a favorable situation and the regional support for its rapid development, but it also brings growing complexities to the regional situation and mounting pressures on China in terms of major-power relations, neighborhood diplomacy, regional cooperation and the resolution of hot spot issues.

   While adhering to the region’s established guiding principles and policies, China should further differentiate specific strategies towards sub-regions and promote the improvement of the overall situation through careful management.

 

 

          选自《China International Studies(中国国际问题研究)》 May/June 2014 PP102-116

 



[1]Gao Zugui is Senior Research Fellow and Associate President at the Research Institute for International Strategic Studies, the Central Party School of China.

 

[2]“Li Keqiang's Keynote Speech on the Opening Ceremony of Annual Meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia in 2014”, April 10th, 2014. http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2014_04/10/c1110191764.

htm.

[3]Liu Zhenmin, “Insist on Win-win Cooperation to Jointly Build Asian Community of Common Destiny”, International Studies, V01.6, No.2, 2014, p6.

 

[4] Australia's New Prime Minister Abbott: The First visit to China and other Asian countries”.

September 9, 2013. http://news.ifeng.com/world/detail_2013_09/09/29423272 _0.shtml.

 

[5] “Economic Integration in South and Central Asia”, remarks by Geoffrey Pyatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Afghanistan Security Days, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Vienna, Austria, March12, 2013, http ://www. state.gov/p/sc a/rls/rmks/2 01 3/2 05 973 .htm.

[6] The transcript of the remarks delivered by Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns in his appearance at the Asia Society Policy Institute’s launch event on April 8, 2014, http://www.asiasociety.org/policy-institute/transcript-amb-william-j-burns-asia-society-policy-institute-launch.


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