Asia’s response to China’s rise will decide emerging strategic trends in region: M.K. Narayanan

New Delhi, Feb.19: Terming closer ties between India and China as critical for Asian security, West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan today said that the emerging strategic trends in Asia will be decided by China’s rise and the Asian response to their rise.

Narayanan was speaking at the 16th Asian Security Conference on ‘Emerging Strategic Trends in Asia and India’s Response’ at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on Wednesday.

Describing Asia as ‘Economically dynamic and to an extent integrated’, he said that from the security point of view, the continent appears “dysfunctional” hit by multiple strands of thoughts, multiple perspectives and multiple courses of action that intersect with fragile states, already hit by internal conflicts.

He insisted that ‘Asia’s security appears anachronistic when compared to Asia’s economics’, and added that even regions that share commonalities of history, geography and culture, are often seen to be in conflict. Fundamentalist, extremist and radicalist ideas are gaining ground in Asia faster than anywhere else.

Speaking on the emerging strategic trends in Asia, he said that strategists have let us believe that it is the outcome of two long standing disputes in Asia, namely Sino-India and Indo-Pak and subsequently it is China’s assertion to power that will determine the course of action in Asia.

Both India and China have different approaches to Asian security and regional stability. While China’s assertion of power is its desire to establish it’s pre-eminence in the region, India’s preference appears more limited, largely restricted to maintaining its strategic autonomy, even while trying to sustain higher economic growth.

India’s preference is for multilateral, pluralist grouping and economic cooperation, rather than for a policy based on power relations, stated Narayanan. India’s responses to the issues in Asia are based on India’s perception of itself.

Narayanan added that China’s rise, peaceful or otherwise is equally important in assessing the emerging strategic trends in the region. China’s nationalism is on the rise and such aggressive nationalism can spurt hawkish military activities, he insisted.

Further, on India-Pakistan rivalry, he said that Pakistan’s propensity to perilous risk taking and a penchant for sub state violence has added to the problem in Asia. Pakistan also possesses one of the biggest armies with growing nuclear strength.

Speaking on global terrorism, he insisted that the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan calls for high risk strategy. Both terrorism and cyber threats are the two most important threats confronting Asia. Climate change is also a key issue.

Insisting for Asian security architecture, the governor said that not much thought has gone into setting it up.

On cyber threat, he was of the view that the Asian nations’ military, nuclear and missile components are the soft targets of such threats.

Throwing light on maritime dimensions, he said that sea lanes of communication have become critically important for Asian nations as the region contains several of the choke points for global commerce.

He cautioned that unsettled maritime boundaries and the tendency towards unrestrained exploitation of maritime resources with little regard to territorial jurisdiction could become a flashpoint of conflict in the region.

Narayanan also released IDSA publication, ‘The Asian Strategic Review- 2014′ edited by Professor S.D. Muni and Vivek Chadha of IDSA.

Earlier, delivering his welcome speech, IDSA Director General Dr. Arvind Gupta said, “There is no single security architecture spanning Asia although several regional security architectures have been mooted in the recent years. The key challenge remains to ensure that the rise of Asia does not lead to conflict and violence.” (ANI)