Asia’s Power Game

As the U.S. withdraws from unhappy East Asia, who will fill the power void?
From the July 2001 Trumpet Print Edition

East Asia is in crisis. It is floundering economically from the aftershocks of the 1997 regional financial meltdown, aflame with widespread security crises and embroiled in a regional leadership scramble. East Asia is buffeted and in troubled waters, awaiting a regional power to grab it by the scruff of its neck and offer some stability.

Meanwhile, the United States is initiating a policy of subcontracted security within the region.

Where are events in East Asia headed? And why, at the very time security and stability are so desperately needed, is the United States reducing its presence there?

U.S. Fears

Perspective on current events within Asia is gained by a clear understanding of the ongoing diplomatic maneuvers unfolding within the darkness of America’s foreign policy. Events in East Asia stem from events involving the region’s most powerful countries—Russia and China. “Any analysis of Russian and Chinese relations must be viewed from the perspective that they both possess nuclear deterrent capabilities. Strategically, Russia needs to remove the possibility of war on two fronts: Europe and China” (Russia and China in Prophecy, p. 4).

Recently, the U.S. initiated a diplomatic offer of military aid and arms purchases with Russia, in exchange for both powers dropping the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed back in 1972. Although Russia rejected it, what was behind this U.S. move was the desire to create a unified American-Russian security understanding that would command the power within Asia, independent of China. America fears that a Sino-Russian partnership would snatch the greater Asian balance of power from U.S. clutches.

However, as world conditions change, Russia and China are finding that they will likely have to cooperate if they are to survive. Already there are signs that the U.S. initiative might be too little too late. Russia has signed crucial and strategic economic and military agreements with the European Union and China.

As part of a larger economic and regional security strategy, which has culminated in its inclusion in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (asean), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (apec), the Asean Free Trade Area and World Trade Organization, China has accelerated its dominance of East Asia by offering desperately needed developmental loans, aid and grants. Now China appears to have learned from the European Union just how powerfully economic, technological, political and military influence can be exerted by the subtle use of friendly faced loans. Last year alone, Beijing’s aid to Papua New Guinea soared 72 percent to $300 million—nearly matching Australia’s aid package of $320 million. China’s expanding influence is carpeting the region from Papua New Guinea to Tonga, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.

In strategic moves that should send shock waves through the halls of Parliament in Australia, China is moving into long-held South Pacific enclaves of Western influence. According to Stratfor Systems, China has built a new Foreign Ministry building in Papua New Guinea; and last October, before being recently ousted, New Guinea’s prime minister met Chinese President Jiang Zemin and military officials in Beijing. China is also developing a military relationship with Tonga, offering training and military aid; in addition, it staffs a satellite- and missile-tracking facility in Kiribati.

In the event of a crisis, China’s recent moves illustrate just how political sway could be shaped into military capability. It has already been long reputed that Chinese intelligence services are particularly aggressive in trying to get hold of strategic technologies.

In addition, mindful of China’s central location among the Indian Ocean, South China Sea and Pacific and its locale as the center of trade and naval forces, Australia has expressed serious concern over China’s alliance with Indonesian separatist organizations throughout the archipelago nation. As separatist groups, political elite, impoverished citizens, nervous neighbors and global observers await the impending collapse of Indonesia’s government and the social and security crisis that will ensue, China has laid the groundwork to maximize its position among the confusion.

In the May edition of the Trumpet, we warned of Indonesia becoming Asia’s Balkan-style quagmire: “Outside intervention seems imminent, as the world needs ready access to Indonesia’s energy resources in this time of restricted flow and high price of energy. The only question that seems to remain is, who will intervene, and what form will that intervention take? Watch the EU and watch Japan for involvement in the outcome.”

The Rising Sun

Recent diplomatic meetings in the U.S., Japan and South Korea by Australia’s defense minister, Alexander Downer, have highlighted just how serious East Asian security concerns are. Nevertheless, statements from U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell indicate the U.S. government’s belief that it can reduce troop deployments in Asia and still maintain control, using the deterrent of its long-range weaponry. In addition, select Asian allies are to be the ground forces of subcontracted regional security. The bottom line is, Washington appears ready to invite Japan back from its 55-year military hiatus.

The Trumpet warned in advance of these developments when we wrote that among other factors in the region, “the call from Southeast Asian countries for Japan to take a more assertive role in Asia will…push Japan back onto the world stage as a military power of note” (June 1999).

At the urging of Washington, Downer has been trying to convince Japan to discard the pacifist Article 9 of its Constitution which limits the Japanese Self-Defense Force’s regional movements. Motivated by the rise of China and growing regional instability, “The U.S. has been urging Japan to free itself of constitutional constraints on what Washington calls ‘collective defense’ with allies. U.S. thinking on Japan’s role is reflected in a new report by Mr. Zalmay Khalizad, a senior security adviser to President Bush. The report—financed by the U.S. Air Force and written for the rand think tank—backs the need for Japan to ‘expand its security horizons beyond its territorial defense’” (Sydney Morning Herald, May 17). The American school of thought is that regional security could be administered by Australia, Japan and South Korea with direction from Washington.

This military “outsourcing” scenario is almost laughable if it were not so serious. Japan by far has the largest force of the three, with South Korea a distant second and Australia a pathetic last. Despite any illusions to the contrary, Japan will lead any subcontracted security measures in East Asia.

Opposition to Japanese militarism has been voiced by war veterans in Australia, the Philippines and other countries that brutally suffered under the imperialistic yoke of the Japanese during World War ii. But Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s outspoken intent is to change the Constitution to permit the country to develop stronger military capabilities. Despite being weighed down by the burden of a decade-long recession, Japan has managed to keep its annual defense budget (which is not limited by its Constitution) at $50 billion!

Given current U.S. foreign policy and in clear view of the facts, www .stratfor.com wrote the following chilling advance warning: “The wall that separates Japan’s armed forces from being a potent military force is paper thin” (May 28).

Japan already has one of the world’s largest, most modern armed forces. After the U.S., it has by far the largest navy in the Pacific. Its forces regularly participate in training exercises alongside the U.S., learning valuable technical information and combat-readiness techniques. In 2000, under the auspices of Operation Pacific Reach, its military trained with other regional neighbors without U.S. participation. Base and military observation agreements have been struck with Singapore and Thailand. Its area ground troops outnumber those of the British. The steady escalation of military strength has been explained to the Japanese public as the United States’ idea.

In the meantime, Japan has developed a large military industrial infrastructure to cater to its growing hardware requirements. The country already has many new military items on the docket for delivery and implementation. They include 130 F-2 fighter bombers, advanced F-16 aircraft, 767s for aerial refueling, and the latest munitions such as the potent Maverick air-to-surface missile. Much of the Japanese hardware contains U.S.-built equipment; however, recent assembly undertaken by the Mitsubishi company reveals the depth of Japan’s well-structured industrial base.

The emergence of China within the region has no doubt spurred the U.S. to encourage Japan to hasten its return to combat readiness. All signs point to a decreased U.S. presence in Asia, leaving Japan as the subcontracted security chief.

Future Events

As the battle of the peace in East Asia unfolds and the rise of regional powers escalates, the U.S. risks drifting in a comfort zone in its peace-time dominance of the region. “America must wake up, look realistically to its position in the world and to its defenses. It must strengthen its alliances by demonstrating the willingness to bear its inescapable responsibilities. It must make the necessary commitments and be ready materially and morally to meet them” (While America Sleeps, p. 435).

America and Britain have forgotten their heritage and history. The British, who once controlled and prospered the Asian region, and the Americans, who exercised superpower control after World War ii, have collectively forgotten God, the true source of their wealth and abundance. Destabilization in Asia has stemmed from the weakness, ineffectual leadership and moral decline of these once-great nations.

Asia’s security crisis will not be solved by gifting back economic and trade routes, equipping for long-range missile defense, rebuilding old enemies and subcontracting security. Events prophesied in the Bible demonstrate that fact.

As can be readily seen in the European Union, economic, political and technological alliances eventually lead to military alliances. Did you know that U.S. fears of a Russian and Chinese alliance will ultimately culminate in the amassing of the largest army ever assembled? Your Bible prophesies of a 200 million man Eurasian army! (Rev. 9:16). But this power will not attack America. The powers within greater Asia will unite, forming an unheard-of regional alliance that will, once attacked by the European beast power (Dan. 11:44), unleash a ferocious counterattack, overwhelming the Europeans (Jer. 50:9; Rev. 18:2-19).

These events are all part of God’s plan, and will precipitate Jesus Christ’s return to this Earth. As absolute ruler, Christ will put down this rebellion. Crushed through brutal captivity of the Europeans, the nations of Israel (primarily America, Britain and the former Commonwealth nations) will have the job of cleansing the land of the widespread death (Ezek. 39:12). A new day will dawn and man will truly begin to know his Creator.