“New NATO” in Southeast Asia Against China

The yellow colour indicates those countries – India, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Japan – that the US wants to involve – in various forms – in a military confrontation with China.

It is well known that the Americans tend to repeat over and over again the decisions and moves that once brought them success. We also remember the famous maxim of Winston Churchill, who once said about the US’ policy: “The Americans always find the only correct solution. After they’ve tried everything else”. Yes, they understand that the found solution is a tracing paper with which you can draw other similar options. True, they are not always “successful”, but the scheme is launched, it is known, clear, and the Yankees, as we can see, are ready to use it again and again. Pay attention to the persistence with which they apply their “sanctions” against everyone who escapes them. They can’t think of anything else. The matrix, sir…

And now we see the return of the well-known American idea – to assemble another copy of NATO in a new region of the world. What is it?

We remember how after the Second World War, when NATO was formed, the Americans tried to promote a scheme to create the same regional military blocs in Asia – remember SEATO in Southeast Asia and CENTO (otherwise known as the “Baghdad Pact” in West Asia)? They didn’t last long…

But about the North Atlantic Pact itself (NATO), this cannot yet be said. Although it is currently experiencing a crisis due to the fact that Trump is pressuring partners, shaking out of them the funding stipulated by the charter, but ignored by almost all participants – and there are as many as 29 member countries. And only a handful of countries, whose number can be counted on the fingers of one hand, pay their 2% of GDP “for NATO” to the general budget. The rest, the majority, according to Trump, are cheapskates. And he is putting pressure on them, threatening to cut American spending on this structure.

Nevertheless, the long history of the existence of NATO sometimes awakes inside of the US’ mettled desire: to create in its image and likeness the same bloc against enemies/foes led, of course, by the City upon a Hill. As we remember, the admirable constancy of the Americans in this sphere was shown not so long ago in an unsuccessful attempt to create something similar in the Middle East. Moreover, the site was chosen to test such an idea… away from the place of the alleged events – in Europe, in the northern Polish capital of Warsaw, where participants from the hot countries of the east were convened. Where the logic is here is a separate mystery. It seems that the most important thing was to raise the issue and see what the response would be.

We wrote in detail about this meeting in the article “Middle Eastern NATO is postponed? Warsaw embarrassment”. There, in particular, is such a passage: “Regardless of the numerous problems in the Middle East, this meeting can tell us more about the differences in the western camp, which seem to be deepening rather than levelling off,” commented Jonathan Marcus, a diplomatic correspondent for the BBC in Warsaw.

And all the American pathos with which they inflated this story was an anti-climax – the Yankees declared the creation of the “Middle Eastern NATO”, and in the end everything turned into an anti-Iranian get-together, and no words were said about this “Middle Eastern NATO” – no one “took a bite”

And why will it be different in Southeast Asia this time? Or are the Indians and Filipinos ready to go into battle against the growing power of China for the interests of the US? The Americans themselves believe that “aggressive Chinese policy in the South China Sea”, as they call China’s activity in this region, will unite neighbouring countries, and they will collectively fight back against China? Yes, this is in their interests, but we can assume that Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan will cope with these problems without American military interests getting involved.

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Nevertheless, the word has been spoken, and we should discuss the rapidly developing situation. Take a look at this map – it shows how the zones of interest of the coastal countries of the South China Sea intersect:

Yes, everyone is arguing about whose water area this is, who is in charge here, and why do people in China call these waters “their own”, far from the Chinese coast? It is clear that other countries are located at a much closer distance to the disputed water area.

But, to understand the Chinese assessment of this region, there is a need to look at another map. This is how the main “oil artery” passes through these waters, through which huge volumes of oil, necessary for the normal functioning of the Chinese economy, come to China from the Middle East, specifically from the Persian Gulf:

And, please note – this area, near the Chinese coast, can become a place where the Americans are able to arrange a real blockade of oil supplies to China along the specified route. The narrow straits – the same Malacca Strait between Indonesia and Singapore – are blocked instantly by a small number of US warships. And it will be very problematic for China to transport oil over the waves of the South China Sea in this turn of events. And this will be a continuation of the “US vs China trade war” that is unfolding before our eyes.

And another map – see and evaluate why the Chinese intend to extend their rights to these sea areas; they also want to secure, where possible, the ways of transportation – both oil from Africa and the Middle East to China, and their goods in the opposite direction – to Europe, Africa and the Arab countries:

We believe that after such “visual agitation”, the motivations for such an aggressive penetration by Chinese comrades into these waters will become more clear. Of course, the neighbours may not like it. But so that these neighbours would follow the lead of the Yankees, put together their local “NATO” under the strict guidance of the Pentagon, and then rush to fight China? It’s hard to believe. However, the Americans themselves are clearly convinced that “another regional NATO project for their collection – well, at least, as an attempt that will bring considerable income – will not be superfluous.

And this has already been stated at the official level. According to the South China Morning Post, Washington is seeking to formalise its closer defence relations with India, Japan, and Australia into something closer to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Bigan. According to Washington, representatives of these countries should meet in New Delhi this autumn to discuss the stated task.

The goal of the US government is to persuade them, as well as other countries in the region, to work together as a shield against the challenge from China and “create a critical mass around the shared values and interests of these parties”. This will help, according to the idea of the Americans, attract more and more countries from the Indo-Pacific region and even from all over the world to create a “local NATO”… S. Bigan said that Washington wants South Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand, and others to join the “expanded version” of this alliance.

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S. Bigan said: “The Indo-Pacific region is actually lacking in strong multilateral structures. They don‘t have anything of the fortitude of NATO or the European Union,.. there is certainly an invitation there at some point to formalise a structure like this… Remember even NATO started with relatively modest expectations and a number of countries [initially] chose neutrality over NATO membership”.

You see, the Chinese newspaper is limited only to the presentation of facts and statements of the State Department. But the message was heard from there. But on the other hand, the Indian website “IASexpress” talks about the situation in more detail in its article Strategic Significance of Indo-Pacific. Note that Indian political scientists consider the Indo-Pacific region as “a maritime space stretching from East Africa and West Asia’s littoral countries, across the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean to East Asia’s littoral countries”. To make it clear what territory was assigned to it, take a look at this map:

Our report on the trip to India, published under the title India: features of national foreign policy, contains the main positions on this topic, expressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “India’s Participation in the Indo-Pacific region – from the coast of Africa to North America – will be comprehensive”. Apparently, also in the military sphere. And this will once again put pressure on China’s sore points, and the two great Asian states will once again sort things out along this track.

Well aware of the construction of Indo-Chinese problems, the US point-blank suggested that India go to the “right side of history” and engage with American plans to “contain” China through the organisation of negotiations in Delhi over the creation of a “local NATO”. On the other hand, the Yankees periodically push neighbouring Pakistan to complicate relations with India. This strategy of the US is to squeeze India between two neighbours, provoke conflicts (and there is a lot of firewood for this fire along their borders), and … gently convince the Delhi authorities of the need to “be friends with America”.

Other countries located along the perimeter of the Middle Kingdom are also processed from Washington. “IASexpress” recalls that in September 2019, a joint US-ASEAN naval exercise was held that brought together naval vessels from 10 southeast Asian countries, which “are taking all possible measures to counter the growing influence of China in the region”. And the exercises were held not just anywhere, but in the South China Sea.

Here we should note what the economic value of this place is. “IASexpress” cites the following facts: Japan, the US, China, and the ASEAN countries depend on the South China Sea for trade and market access. International trade worth about $3.5 trillion passes through the South China Sea – the second most visited sea route in the world. According to a report made by the US Energy Information Administration, there may be a total of 11 billion barrels of oil in the South China Sea. The South China Sea contains one-third of the world’s marine biodiversity, which is crucial for the food security of many southeast Asian countries. The South China Sea is also an important trade link for American companies, especially in the global supply chain…

This is why control of these waters is so important for both China and the US, which is trying to play a role in local affairs.

And Washington, we must pay tribute to it here, has effectively achieved its goal in convening the countries of the region for joint naval manoeuvres, tapping into their fears of China. Gathered under the auspices of the US: Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Singapore. The local press also notes that in the past few decades, the US has made commitments to ensure the security of southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Singapore, and the Philippines.

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And now, apparently, having drawn conclusions for themselves from how easy it is to integrate even countries that have good relations with China into the general military series, the US has already taken a swing at forming the very “South-East Asian NATO” that we are talking about here.

Only now this kind of “concern” for the security of local states can enter into another sphere – the US is quite ready to send the military forces of southeast Asia into battle against China, taking “overall leadership of the operation”. There will be no major losses to their G.I.s, and if they win, the Yankees can collect a decent political and economic “harvest” by declaring themselves “winners”. We also saw how the Yankees were holed up away from the fight in Syria, on which they set Islamists, via whose hands they wanted to get their own way. And here, it seems, they will again install their “worn-out records”. There are no others…

One, but important additional touch to this is added by the Canadian publication “The Blueprint Media” in the article South China Sea Territorial Disputes: “The outburst of territorial disputes in the South China Sea has become a major conflict that may lead to war in Southeast Asia”.

The question is: who benefits from this war, and what will remain of the local economy in the event of the outbreak of hostilities?

Answer: the economy will collapse, trade and economic ties will be severed, and the region will be chaotic according to the American blueprint of the “Arab spring” in the Middle East. We have not forgotten that Libya was once also the leading country in Africa, until NATO appeared on its shores with its “Tomahawks”

And now fratricide can break out in Southeast Asia, where more than half of humanity lives – an ominous American plan to clean up competitors: the leading region of the planet – in the trash, America – “Great Again”.

More people live in this circle than outside of it

Only “American partners” will benefit, who will push back the rapid development of southeast Asia and east Asia as a whole through the provoked war of “all against China”. And it is here, as we have written more than once, that a new World Power is rising, claiming planetary leadership in the coming decades. But who in Washington will just give away the laurels of a weakening Leader, but Leader all the same?

That is why China seeks, despite the disagreements and even the resistance of its neighbours, to consolidate control over the strategically important area of the South China Sea. From here, it’s possible to influence all the processes in the coastal countries in order, in particular, to seize the initiative from the Yankees, who gone with their plans for more chaos to distant lands…

And China is already finding points of agreement with both Vietnam and the Philippines. However, it is the Americans who are stepping up countermeasures in order to prevent Beijing from improving relations with its neighbours and maintaining a naval foothold that guarantees it a more or less stable situation near its southern borders in the event of, let’s say, “unforeseen circumstances”.

This game of “strategic chess” seems to go into the middlegame, i.e., in “positional manoeuvring”, and it, according to the classical canons of chess, “contains both attacks and defence, and new combinations, and … victims”.

Sergey Filatov

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