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China Threat Leads to Solidifying Pacific Alliances

Fear of Chinese dominance, like 19th century Germany, is solidifying ties between the US, India, Japan and Australia.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 11/7/2011, 1:41 PM

The rise of China as a great power has elicited many comparisons with 19th century Imperial Germany.

Proponents of this comparison may be finding additional support for their argument. Germany's overbearing behavior following the departure of its 19th century master strategist Otto von Bismarck triggered the formation of an alliance system against her.

Currently, China's casting aside of the "peaceful rising" policy that characterized her role in the previous decade in favor of a policy of assertiveness, is triggering the formation of an anti-Chinese coalition reminiscent of the Entente against Germany.

Indian defense minister A. K. Antony has visited Tokyo to discuss maritime security issues (a euphemism for China) with Japanese Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa. Also involved in the talks was R.K. Dhowan from the Indian Navy.

Anthony expressed his support for freedom of navigation and rights of passage in international waters in conformity with the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (and contrary to China's claims on the South China Sea as its historical waters). Ichikawa will make a return visit to India next year for a bilateral defense dialogue.

Japan has removed 7 Indian firms from a blacklist allowing the transfer of nuclear technology to India. This includes Indian Rare Earths Limited. According to Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, this will lead to "greater cooperation between Indian and Japanese firms in the rare earth sector." This too can be seen as an action against China which has tried to control the market for rare earth.

On a visit to Japan, the Indian Foreign Minister was received by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiko Noda in his personal residence, a diplomatic gesture highlighting the importance that Japan now attaches to its relations with India.

The coalition also includes the United States, and by the end of the year Japan, the United States and India will hold trilateral talks. According to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, the three countries share common interests and in the trilateral forum they could "discuss a number of issues that we can work on together."

China was not specifically mentioned but then it did not have to be.

Another potential partner in the coalition is Australia.

Three think tanks, the Australian Lowy Institute, India's Observer Research Foundation and the US Heritage Foundation issued a joint paper calling for a US-Australia-India dialogue and increased coordination in economic, political and security issues. The paper advocated closer strategic collaboration that could advance to surveillance, maritime expeditionary operations, anti-submarine warfare and perhaps even integration of theatre missile defense."