Political matters are certainly tense these days in Asia, what with China’s squabbles with Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines among others. But is it fair to compare the region to Europe pre-WWI?
Despite no one wanting to see conflict in Asia, the ranks of doomsayers and worrywarts seem to grow by the day. The specter haunting the continent is that of China’s geo-political rise. Governments near and far are watching warily as the budding nondemocratic superpower asserts itself on the international stage, tacitly challenging a Pax Americana that has existed since 1945. Some countries are already locked in combustible disputes with Beijing: the region’s waters have been roiled in recent years by standoffs over barren islands to China’s south and east; Chinese relations with Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines all soured as a result.
The climate of tensions is thick enough to have drawn comparisons to a perilous moment a century ago. In separateopinion pieces this week, two former Asian foreign ministers likened Asia now to pre–World War I Europe, then strung together by a tangle of imperial enmities and alliances. The South China Sea — a pivotal, strategic body of water that China considers its “internal lake,” much to the ire of its neighbors — is, like the Balkans a hundred years ago, the supposed tinderbox that could spark a larger regional conflagration, if not a full-fledged war.
Local militaries are not just standing by. Look at what Manilla is doing:
And the article states the Philippines may soon acquire F-16s as well.