There is little doubt that Asia – stretching from the Eurasian landmass to the maritime reaches of Australia and the South Pacific – is experiencing a major shift in the global balance of power. Expressions like the ‘Indo-Pacific’ and ‘Asia-Pacific’, contested they maybe, capture Asia’s expanse and dynamism. But for one brief and dramatic financial crisis in 1997, growth rates in Asia have been averaging well above the rest of the world. The rise of China along with the increasing global footprint of Russia and India in G20 and the ASEAN states soaring economies have made Asia the powerhouse and centre of gravity. Yet, Asia struggles with numerous conflicts in spite of its ‘alphabet soup’ of regional organisations and security structures.
Changes are happening fast in Asia and changing not only the geo-political landscape but also the mindset of the people who are pushing for political reforms and accountability. The global power shifts being witnessed is also potentially prising up Asia to confrontation as well as convergence as states compete. China is an important piece of the puzzle and its rise is a defining line of the changing landscape. How will China define its national interest in the future? Will it pursue an assertive, even aggressive policy in Asia to back up its territorial claims? Or will China, assured of its great power status practice moderation and restraint? Importantly, how should India and other key states in Asia respond to China’s continuous rise and influence – should the response be as a strategic competitor with a policy of confrontation or a containment approach through active cooperation? More [+]