Indo-pacific

Indonesia's new military chief General Andika Perkasa speaks to journalists during a press conference with retired Indonesia's military chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, after a handover ceremony at the Indonesian Military Headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, 18 November 2021. (Willy Kurniawan/Reuters)

Indonesia’s maritime challenges are increasing. Can its new army chief rise to the occasion?

The newly-appointed commander of the Indonesian military, General Andika Perkasa, has an army background. However, his appointment comes at a time when Indonesia’s defence challenges fall largely in the maritime domain, including the presence of vessels from various countries in the waters around Indonesia, necessitating maritime enforcement. Indonesian academic Aristyo Rizka Darmawan notes that if the Indonesian military can shift focus towards the sea, it may be able to play a key role in Asia's maritime landscape.
This file photo taken on 18 November 2021 shows the name plaque at the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, Vilnius. (Petras Malukas/AFP)

How Beijing should respond to Lithuania’s signals on Taiwan

Analyst Zheng Weibin says that the establishment of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, with “Taiwan” rather than “Taipei” in its name, should not be looked upon by Beijing merely as Taiwan gaining diplomatic space. China needs to understand better the dynamics underpinning China’s relations with Europe and the shifts in the EU's foreign policy strategy. Taking a heavy-handed approach is likely to be counterproductive for the Asian giant.
Visitors look at models of military equipment displayed at the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation Limited (CASIC) booth at Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China, 28 September 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Taiwan and Indo-Pacific are the primary targets of China’s hypersonic glide vehicle

Recent news that China had launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle sounded an alarm. Mastery of such technology would mean that China would gain speed, manoeuvrability and surprise in their response, and the fine balance among nuclear-armed states could be upset. From China’s perspective, their nuclear deterrent would be more credible and they would be better able to defend their interests vis-à-vis Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific. No matter the intentions, this might mean rattled nerves and an increased presence of US missile defence systems in the Indo-Pacific.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (right) and Australian Minister for Defence Peter Dutton stand for their national anthems during an honour cordon at the Pentagon on 15 September 2021 in Arlington, Virginia, US. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/AFP)

With AUKUS in place, now what for key players in the Indo-Pacific?

Former German diplomat Dr Anne-Marie Schleich analyses the impact of AUKUS from the perspective of key players in the region. This development sees important ramifications, not only for Australia, which has further thrown in its lot with the US, but for other stakeholders such as the Pacific island countries, who may see their nuclear-free Blue Pacific blueprint thwarted, as well as the European countries, who must decide how they can maintain a strategic presence in the region within the AUKUS framework.
People walk past a Chinese flag near the Forbidden City during National Day holidays in Beijing, China, 5 October 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

China will be the US's most difficult opponent

While there may have been some minor tweaks from the US side to smoothen relations with China, the overall suppression and containment of China remains unchanged from the Trump to Biden eras as fundamental differences exist between the two countries, says Wu Guo.
Fumio Kishida, Japan's prime minister, center, during a group photograph with his new cabinet members at prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, on 4 October 2021. (Stainislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/Bloomberg)

Can Japan rise above faction politics and become the 'bridge to the world' under new PM Kishida?

Fumio Kishida became the new Japanese prime minister despite a relatively weak political base. This shows that faction politics within the Liberal Democratic Party still provided some measure of stability in influencing outcomes. However, public opinion has landed on the side of wanting a leader with the gumption and vision to implement reforms and improve the plight of the Japanese people. But will this new administration be a force for change as the people want, or will the Japanese government go back to the days of having a new prime minister each year? Japan-based academic Zhang Yun takes us through.
Coast guard officers stand on the deck of the Indian Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel 'VIGRAHA' during its commissioning ceremony, in Chennai, India, on 28 August 2021. (Indian Navy/AFP)

With China’s increasing assertiveness, India’s active role in the Indian Ocean matters more than ever

India’s geostrategic location enables it to occupy a central position in the Indian Ocean region, although it has traditionally shown a reluctance to get too involved. This is all changing with China exerting a greater presence in the region and India’s own involvement in the Quad and a greater alignment of its Indian Ocean strategy with the “free and open Indo-Pacific” concept. In the last few years, it has stepped up its aid and outreach missions, as well as military partnerships with various stakeholders in the Indian Ocean. Indian academic Amrita Jash examines the impetus for and extent of India's shift.
A US flag flutters in the wind near the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum on 10 September 2021 in the US. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP)

With AUKUS, Southeast Asia may become a more intense battleground

Yogesh Joshi points out that the new AUKUS shows an American recognition of the military threat from China, which is assessed to have the world's largest navy. Such anxiety has the US sharing its most prized military technology of nuclear propulsion with Australia, something it has never done with any country except the UK. With the US determined to maintain primacy in the Indo-Pacific, will there be a greater chance of inadvertent escalation of tensions? Will the Southeast Asian region suffer the brunt of heightened risks?
A police barricade is seen in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on 14 September 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

AUKUS: Aggravating tensions and dividing the world

Australia, the US and the UK recently launched the enhanced trilateral security partnership “AUKUS”. American academic Zhu Zhiqun believes that AUKUS is divisive and serves the interests of the US military-industrial complex. It has also raised the stakes in China’s threat perceptions, given the unspoken target of the grouping. And now that Australia has picked a side, how will power dynamics play out in the Indo-Pacific region? Will China also seek alliances to strengthen itself?