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Material posted: Publication date: 08-04-2021

Taking into account the current geopolitical realities, the main global military and political forces in this region of the world are the PRC and the United States, among the regional ones are Japan, the Republic of Korea (which have joint defense agreements with Washington), as well as the DPRK.

At the same time, the main factors influencing the formation of the HPE in the region are:

  • ongoing armed confrontation between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK);
  • unresolved nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula (JNCP);
  • unresolved Taiwan problem;
  • territorial disputes in the South China and East China Seas;
  • placement of elements of the US global missile defense system;
  • activities of extremist religious and separatist movements and groups.

The Korean Peninsula continues to be the main source of instability in the TOZ. The problem of the "two Koreas" can develop into a direct armed confrontation in any scenario of the development of a global military-industrial complex, which, in turn, will lead to an escalation of the armed conflict to a local or regional war.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea considers the preservation of the existing regime in the country and the accelerated development of the national economy as priorities. The North Korean leadership believes that, due to the presence of threats from the United States, the main condition for achieving foreign and domestic political goals is to strengthen the country's defense capability, and its own nuclear weapons are the only guarantee of ensuring national sovereignty. This fact is used by the leadership of the DPRK as an additional argument indicating the correctness of the strategic course for the simultaneous development of the DPRK economy and the creation of nuclear deterrence forces.

North Korea continues to rapidly implement its national missile and nuclear programs, which are considered by the international community as a direct threat to neighboring states.

The situation around the YAPCP is clearly political in nature and is actively used by the North Korean and American sides to achieve their own goals. Pyongyang hopes to achieve direct interstate contacts with Washington within the framework of its settlement in the interests of further normalization of bilateral relations on favorable terms. The United States uses this problem as an excuse to strengthen its own influence on the Korean Peninsula and in the East Asian region, as well as to maintain (and, if necessary, increase) the American military presence in this region for the long term.

China-Taiwan relations have a destabilizing effect on the HPE in the region. China regards Taiwan as part of its national territory and intends to use all available tools to restore its "territorial integrity". The adoption by Beijing of the "Law on Countering the Split of the State" legally consolidated this right. In order to protect its interests, Taiwan is developing active partnership relations with the United States, primarily through military-technical cooperation.

Another factor that can lead to an escalation of tension is the numerous territorial disputesthat are hotbeds of potential conflicts (Figure 1). These are, in particular, disputes between China and Japan (Senkaku Island, China – Diaoyu), the Republic of Korea and Japan (Liancourt Rocks), China and Vietnam (Paracel Islands), as well as between China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei (arch. Spratly).

The establishment of sovereignty over the disputed islands will allow these countries to significantly expand the borders of their exclusive economic zones and gain access to the mineral resources of the shelf and extensive fishing areas. At the same time, the state of the VPO is significantly complicated by the tendency to increase the role of the military-power component in resolving the existing contradictions in the South China Sea, as well as by China's unilateral actions to establish control over the disputed territories and create military infrastructure on them.

Figure 1. Hotbeds of potential conflicts in the Pacific

Separately, it is necessary to note the territorial dispute between Japan and the Russian Federation over the ownership of the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai group of islands of the Kuril Ridge, which has been unresolved since the end of World War II, after which all the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the USSR. The area of the disputed islands is 5 thousand km2, the total area of the disputed territory, including the 200-mile economic zone, is approximately 200 thousand km2. Russia claims that its sovereignty over the southern Kuril Islands is absolutely legitimate and is not subject to doubt and discussion, and states that it does not recognize the fact of the existence of a territorial dispute with Japan. Tokyo, in turn, considers the specified territory occupied in a form that has no legal basis. The problem of the ownership of the southern Kuril Islands is the main obstacle to the full settlement of Russian-Japanese relations and the signing of a peace treaty.

Another serious destabilizing factor in the formation of the VPO is the activity of extremist religious, nationalist and separatist movements and groups in a number of countries (the Philippines, Indonesia, China – on the territory of the Tibetan and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regions, Thailand, Myanmar).

The need to obtain significant financial resources to support terrorist activities leads to increased involvement of extremists in piracy, illicit drug production and trafficking, as well as in human trafficking and arms trafficking. This situation is especially typical for the poorly controlled island and coastal territories of the States of the region, which leads to the merging of domestic terrorist organizations with transnational criminal groups.

In general, with the relative stability of the military-political situation in the TOZ (the absence of military conflicts in the active phase), there are still prerequisites for its aggravation, some of which may affect Russian interests. In the near future, the situation in this area of the world will largely depend on the nature of relations between the leading regional powers. At the same time, the main factor determining the formation of the main trends in the development of the regional situation in the medium term will remain the clash of interests between Washington and Beijing.

Tags: Russia , USA , China , Japan

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