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  • Affiliation : Director, ASEAN Center, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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The Myth of the Chinese Threat and Obama’s Dilemma

09.10.2013

MOSCOW, OCTOBER 9, 2013, PIR PRESS – “It is almost a truism for the publications on the South China Sea that Beijing is a typical rising power, and therefore, it is predisposed to undermine the existing balance of forces. Such a statement points out at who is to be blamed for the growing tensions. Given the fact that over the last few decades, China has been successfully developing in the framework of the existing status quo in East Asia (which includes the US "stabilizing presence" in the region), PRC is not  interested at all in rocking the boat” – Victor Sumsky, PIR Center Advisory Board member and the Director of the ASEAN Center at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).

The capital of Brunei hosts the 23rd ASEAN summit on October 9-10, 2013. The leaders of the 10 member countries will be joined by representatives of China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, the USA and India. There are two main questions on the table: the future of the economic integration in the South Asia and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Victor Sumsky, PIR Center Advisory Board member and the Director of the ASEAN Center at MGIMO, commented on the reasons for increasing the tensions over the islands in the South China Sea: “It is almost a truism for the publications on the South China Sea that Beijing is a typical rising power, and therefore, it is predisposed to undermine the existing balance of forces. Such a statement points out at who is to be blamed for the growing tensions. Given the fact that over the last few decades, China has been successfully developing in the framework of the existing status quo in East Asia (which includes the US "stabilizing presence" in the region), PRC is not  interested at all in rocking the boat”.

The expert emphasizes that whereas the world media is getting more and more alarming about the “escalation of tensions” in the South Asia, the Chinese position regarding the Paracel and the Spratly islands has not changed at all since the late 1950 s: “The territorial claims of Beijing towards the South China Sea are the same as they were half a century ago. The famous “nine–dashed line”, the illustration of the scope of those claims, provokes righteous indignation today, while it was drawn and demonstrated to the world as early as in the 1950s. Where can you see any signs of the “new aggression” here?

The cancellation of the historical Asian trip by Barack Obama due to the budget crisis in the USA raised apprehension among the US alliances in the region and light gloat of its opponents. However, Victor Sumsky believes that the US President would have found himself in a very difficult situation even if he had been able to attend the forum. In this case, he would have had to succeed with the negotiation on the Transpacific partnership (TPP), a US backed model for the East Asian economic integration. “It would have been impossible to finish the negotiations with the satisfactory outcomes for the USA during this Asian trip, taking into consideration where the talks are at the moment”.  

For additional information regarding the PIR Center project “Perspectives for Russia-ASEAN Cooperation in Strategic Spheres”, please contact us by tel.+7 (495) 987-19-15, fax;  +7 (495) 987-19-14

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