Rising Rivalries in “Emerging Asia”: The Relationship Between the Importance of the Region and the Rising Tensions in the Region

02.05.2023

The world order has evolved towards unipolarity, and America has become the only regional power with the end of the Cold War era. Today, the question of whether China can become a superpower has become a matter of debate. Since this situation will affect many countries, it has started to come to the agenda in the international arena. Turkey and Russia are the leading countries affected by this situation (US-Chinese rivalry), and then other countries will be affected by this situation in many military and economic areas. It should not be forgotten that the commercial, economic, political, and military importance of Asia is increasing. In this case, in order for Turkey to take its place on the world stage as an important actor in the 21st century and to carry out a policy of balance between the West and the East, it needs to develop its relations in every field, starting from Southeast Asia to the Indo-Pacific region. The issue of “Asia Again” is included in Turkey’s 2023 foreign policy agenda.

First of all, the “Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)” project, which China uses as a method of competition, will be mentioned. This plan is likened to the Marshall aid of the USA, but the economic success it has achieved since it started in 2013 should not be ignored. It should not be forgotten that the plan, which is also called the Modern Silk Road Project, has projects covering many countries, including Italy. In this way, China begins to make friends quickly and shows its existence. Obviously, although this situation increases the competition and tension between the USA and China, the European Union is strengthened thanks to the US government, which encourages the EU to act jointly against China. The desire of the USA is to reduce China’s power in the global arena. Therefore, it is not correct to evaluate this situation as good or bad from a single point of view. The situation varies depending on where you are. In addition, when we look at Western countries such as Germany and France, we do not see any clarity. Looking at the details, the Belt and Road Project seems more attractive, so global balances may change at any time.

Since we said that the China-US competition will not end in the short term and will even spread to the global arena, let’s talk about the discussions that are on the agenda. Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang stated at the press conference that the US wants to organize to form special blocs with the “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, to cause conflict and to endanger regional integrity, and said that the real purpose of this is the desire to encircle China. In addition, the minister emphasized that the Cold War period in Asia should not rekindle, and a Ukrainian-style crisis should not be repeated. It seems that the two countries will always face each other in any problem.

The period when China was noticed economically, while the economic crisis in 2008 forced the Western bloc, especially the success of the Chinese economy, the alliance it established with Russia in Asia, and it’s becoming a stronger regional actor by taking the ASEAN countries along in the Far East region. Although China and the EU tried to develop their relations economically, it could not reach the desired level due to the repressive attitude of the USA on the EU. While not being able to have a say in the Customs Union Agreement but complying with its requirements was a problem for Turkey, it became a bigger problem with the involvement of China and negatively affected TR-US relations.

It is predicted that the power that will balance China in the region is Japan. The attitude of Japan, one of the important actors of the global system, has changed over time. It shows sometimes Asian attitude sometimes total opposite is pro-Western attitude. Today’s Japanese foreign policy is about world peace in the changing world environment. New strategy is defined “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”, predicts to found economic, strategic, and military cooperation contribute world order in Indo Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

South Korea-China relations have developed throughout history and are now described as a “strategic partnership”. The general attitude of South Korea is to act as a mediator between the USA and China. There are cases where China has left negative impressions despite its increasing good relations. It’s about security issues. The main ones are China’s Increasing Military Power, China’s moves in the East China Sea and South China Sea, and it can be said that China acts without considering the rules of international law.

After this situation, the attitude of Russia’s act to gained important. It should be discussed which side Russia will take in this supposed tension between China and the West. Basically, China-Russia relations are based on the understanding of non-alliance and non-confrontation, not targeting third parties, but at the same time uncontrollable statements made by third parties. Then, estimations were made on NATO’s plan in the region, and it was concluded that the system was tried to be changed. They say it is intended to undermine the ASEAN-based security and collaboration structure.

As a result, the attitude of every country in the region is important for Asia, which is an active and important region. There are various actors in the region that compete openly, try to remain neutral and implement the strategy, and no one can predict what will happen in the near future because the balances can change constantly. The increasing importance of Asia and the rivalry between the USA and China seem to increase tensions in the region. China’s economic success with the Belt and Road Initiative project and the strengthening of the relations with Europe may change the balance between US-Chinese competition. However, it is estimated that the China-US competition will not end in the short term and will spread to the global arena. In this case, Turkey needs to develop its relations in the geography from Southeast Asia to the Indo-Pacific region and carry out a balance policy within the framework of its Asia Again policy. Dialogue and cooperation are important for ensuring regional stability and preventing conflicts.

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