‘Rise of China to impact strategic trends in Asia’

New Delhi, Feb 19: Terrorism and cyber threats were the two most important challenges confronting Asian countries, West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan said Wednesday, noting that China’s rise would be a factor in assessing emerging strategic trends in the continent.

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) here, Narayanan said that closer ties between India and China were critical for Asian security. Narayanan is a former National Security Advisor and former director of the Intelligence Bureau.

According to an official release, Narayanan said Asia appears “dysfunctional” from the security point of view as it had multiple strands of thoughts, multiple perspectives and multiple courses of action that intersect with fragile states already hit by internal conflicts.

He said fundamentalist, extremist and radicallist ideas were gaining ground in Asia faster than any where else.

He said sea lanes of communication have become critically important for Asian countries as the region contains several “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 said both India and China have different approaches to Asian security and regional stability.

“While China’s assertion of power is its desire to establish its 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,” he said.

He said China’s rise, peaceful or otherwise, was important in assessing emerging strategic trends in the region.

“China’s nationalism is on the rise and such aggressive nationalism can spurt hawkish military activities,” he said.

Referring to Pakistan, he said its “propensity to perilous risk taking and a penchant for sub state violence has added to the problem in Asia.”

He said terrorism and cyber threats were the two most important threats confronting Asia and climate change was also a key issue.

He said that the military, nuclear and missile components of Asian countries were soft targets for cyber threats.