Tit-for-tat im Indopazifik: Erste China-ASEANmarinemanöver versus erstes US-Kriegsschiff in Vietnam

von Ralf Ostner

China und die USA konkurrieren um die Vormacht im Indopazifik—vom Ostchinesischen Meer über den Pazifik, zum Südchinesischen Meer, das China als sein mare nostrum ansieht bis hin zur Strasse von Malaka und hin zum Indischen Meer. Die USA haben in ihrer neuesten Nationalen Sicherheitsstrategie auch den Begriff Asien-Pazifik durch den weitergefassten Begirff Indo-Pazifik ersetzt. Die USA versuchen nun gegen China, vor allem im Südchinesischen Meer und im Indischen Meer den sogenannten Quadrilateral Dialogue, kurz: Quad genannt, eine Sicherheitskooperation zwischen den USA, Indien,Japan und Australien, in denen einige Beobachter schon die Keimzelle einer asiatischen NATO sehen wollen. In einem Kommentar in der South Morning Post (25 Nov 2017 ) schreibt etwa Cary Huang:

„US, Japan, Australia, India…is Quad the first step to an Asian Nato? (…)It’s more than just changing the name of the ‘Asia-Pacific’ to the ‘Indo-Pacific’ – the ‘Quad’ grouping of like-minded democracies has the potential to dramatically change the region’s security landscape.“

Hingegen halten das andere Experten für übertrieben, wie etwa James Jay Carafano von der Heritage Foundation. In dem Beitrag „A strong US-Indian Partnership is our strategic interest „argumentiert er :

„The U.S.-India relationship doesn’t fit well into either the category of friend or ally. What is driving strategic convergence between Washington and Delhi is Beijing. But the United States and India don’t need a treaty alliance. It is not about deferring to Indian sensibilities that may cling to the country’s nonalignment legacy, or crave strategic autonomy, or envision India as independent balancer in South Asia. No. There just isn’t a need for a defensive alliance to deal with China. No one is trying to deter or contain China. What is required is a regional structure to manage China’s disruptive influence in the region. Beijing is now attempting to rewrite international norms: threatening freedom of the commons, intimidating smaller regional powers and spreading corrupt practices. What Washington and Delhi have in common is not the desire to counter China per se, but a desire to foster peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific—and to deal with Beijing when it undermines that effort.“

Der indische Majorgeneral Ashanta von dem indischen Sicherheitsthinktank USI wiederum sieht die Bedeutung des Quad momentan begrenzt, aber sieht eine größere Rolle für die Zukunft, jedoch keine asiatische NATO, sollte China weiter expandieren wollen:

„Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) may be at official level talks on sidelines of Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia Summits, to discuss regional and global cooperation in Manila, may be an old idea with limited scope today, but it signals thinking and talking about balancing China’s growing assertiveness. Malabar exercises, global use of word ‘Indo-Pacific’ instead of ‘Asia-Pacific’ (cutting out China from it), Asia- Africa Growth Corridor are some examples of it. Quad may not be a relevant balancer today, but it may become formal, relevant and powerful in future, in case Chinese stance continues to be aggressive.“

Kurz: Die 4 Länder werden wohl in Zukunft bei weiterer chinesischer Expansion im Indopazifik noch enger zusammenarbeiten, aber integrierte Kommandostrukturen ala NATO, womöglich noch unter US-Kommando werden sich nicht herausbilden–dazu möchte sich Indien niemals in derartioge Abhängigkeiten hineinbegeben oder solchen Hierarchien unterordnen, sondern seine mehr unabhängige Außenpolitik fortführen.

Interessant nun ist, dass China wiederum versucht, die Verteidigungsbeziehungen zu anderen Ländern zu vertiefen. So fand nun erstmals im März 2018  ein gemeinsames Marinemanöver zwischen China und den ASEAN-Staaten unter der Präsidentschaft Singapurs (das selbst einen US-Marinestützpunkt unterhält) statt, das für einige Verunsicherung sorgte. Dennoch halten Experten die Gefahr, dass ASEAN nun ein Bündnis mit China eingehen würde für sehr begrenzt, da die ASEAN es sich nicht mit den USA verderben wollten, es unterschiedliche Interessen verschiedener Staaten gäbe,  die auch eine Dominanz Chinas befürchteten und das Manöver selbst auf Katastrophenrettungsübungen und wenige Gebiete beschränkt sei, als ein bedrohliches Marinemanöver zu signalisieren. Dennoch meinen einige Kommentatoren, dass man sorgfältig beobachten solle, wie sich diese Manöver entwickelten, zumal sie einen Trend zu breiteren und weiteren geopolitischen Veränderungen in der Region symbolisieren könnten. So schreibt etwa Prashant Parameswaran in „The Diplomat“vom Februar 2018:

„Despite the media headlines, few specifics were provided about the nature of the exercise itself, which, as I have pointed out before, will be important indicators of its true significance. When it was first broached, indications were that it would be quite limited in scope – involving areas like maritime search and rescue and disaster relief – and that it would not be without its challenges, whether it be the lack of trust or where exactly they will be conducted (especially in the case of the South China Sea given the areas with contested claims). Few of those parameters have changed today.

There have been no official details released about the exercise, with preparations still to be made to work out specifics. But Kyodo News quoted unnamed ASEAN sources as saying there would be two exercises held this year under the “ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise” – one would be a tabletop exercise in China, possibly in October, and another being a field training exercise in the waters of an ASEAN member state, potentially the Philippines, in late November or December. Irrespective of how those specifics play out, when it occurs, the holding of the exercise itself will be a testament to broader changes underway in the region in general as well as in the maritime realm.“

https://thediplomat.com/2018/02/whats-behind-the-new-china-asean-maritime-exercise/

Wesentlich skeptischer kommentierte dies derselbe Autor Prashant Parameswaran noch im China Brief 21/2013 der Jamestown Foundtaion von Oktober 2013  in dem Beitrag „Beijing Unveils New Strategy for ASEAN-China Relations“:

„But while Southeast Asian countries may laud some of Beijing’s fresh initiatives, their view of the long-term trajectory of ASEAN–China economic relations is also tinged with caution, for two reasons. First, as the Singaporean commentator Simon Tay has noted, China’s economic size and power has grown tremendously relative to Southeast Asia since the 1990s, and this asymmetry alone worries some in the region today (Japan Times, August 15). Second, and on a related note, ASEAN countries may worry that being overly dependent on China economically would allow Beijing to use its dominance to undermine their foreign policy autonomy. The consequences of overdependence on China were on full display during ASEAN deliberations in Cambodia in July 2012, when Phnom Penh was pressured by its largest trading partner and investor to shape the agenda which eventually resulted in the organization’s unprecedented failure to issue a joint communiqué (Asia Times, July 27). Given these fears, some Chinese commentators and diplomats have emphasized that boosting economic ties with ASEAN requires more than just new economic proposals, but “enhancing political mutual trust” as well (Global Times, October 15; Xinhua, October 8).

ASEAN’s reaction to some of the political-security initiatives in the 2 + 7 cooperation framework has been more cautious. Its response to the newly proposed Treaty of Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation exclusively between China and ASEAN in the ASEAN–China Summit joint statement was a nuanced one, noting it with appreciation but also signaling a preference for a more open and inclusive agreement by mentioning Indonesia’s hope for a similar pact that includes “a wider Indo-Pacific region, beyond ASEAN and China” (ASEAN Secretariat). ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh also later told The Straits Times in an interview that the Chinese proposal “has to be studied carefully first” (The Nation [Thailand], October 15). ASEAN also appeared cool to Beijing’s proposal for an informal ASEAN–China defense ministers meeting in China, choosing to leave this to “a convenient time in the future” in the statement (The Straits Times, October 11). And while the Chinese proposal to strengthen exchanges and relations in the security field may be a good idea in general, experts noted that even the recent enhanced defense ties Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to with Beijing during President Xi’s trip represent more continuity than change in what is still nascent cooperation (The Diplomat, October 16).

ASEAN’s caution is not surprising. Greater economic cooperation with Beijing since the 1990s has failed to spill over into the political-security realm, and Southeast Asian states continue to be concerned to varying degrees about China’s growing military capabilities and its lack of transparency about its intentions. Beijing’s renewed assertiveness over territorial and maritime disputes with ASEAN countries in the South China Sea since 2009, including the imposition of unilateral fishing bans, harassment of vessels from other nations, and its saber-rattling at sea with the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal, has only compounded these fears (see M. Taylor Fravel, Contemporary Southeast Asia, December 2011). This unease has manifested itself in various forms over the last few years, from Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew’s speech in October 2009 urging the United States to balance a rising China to investments in naval capabilities by South China Sea claimants Vietnam, the Philippines, and most recently Malaysia (Lee Kuan Yew, speech at U.S.–ASEAN Business Council Anniversary Gala Dinner, October 27, 2009; The Economist, March 24, 2012; IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, October 15).

Meanwhile, totally absent from China’s new framework was any mention of dealing with the South China Sea with ASEAN as a region, although this dispute has been the main irritant in Beijing’s relations with Southeast Asia. Instead, Chinese officials at the recent round of Asian summitry repeated their mantra: that the disputes should be addressed bilaterally and that other external actors should not interfere (The Straits Times, October 11). Beyond the rhetoric, Beijing’s actions on the issue over the past few weeks have been worrying to say the least. Beijing disinvited Philippine president Benigno Aquino from the ASEAN–China Expo in Nanning, in apparent punishment for his government’s decision to turn to the United Nations to challenge China’s extensive maritime claims (South China Morning Post, August 2). More generally, experts say China has continued its foot-dragging on a binding code of conduct with ASEAN. Chinese officials continue to say that consultations should only be pushed forward in a step-by-step fashion, even as they work to delay meaningful progress by insisting that the issue be tackled by lower-level officials within the ASEAN–China Joint Working Group and proposing the establishment of an experts’ group to address technical issues (The Straits Times, October 1). But as one Chinese commentator correctly noted, distrust of China will linger in Southeast Asia unless Beijing demonstrates its willingness to address key security issues head-on rather than hoping that economic cooperation will spill over into other areas (Global Times, October 15).

While these are serious obstacles to better ASEAN–China relations, they are not insurmountable and the new Chinese leadership is at least trying to overcome them. One way to mollify concerns about China’s economic might, for instance, is to grant partners generous and customized concessions like the early harvest program Beijing offered to Southeast Asian states before the initial conclusion of the CAFTA. Premier Li appeared to employ a similar tactic on his visit to Thailand when he said Beijing would buy Thai rice and rubber—both of which the government has been struggling to sell (Associated Press, October 11). And in the security realm, progress on Beijing’s proposed working group on joint exploration in dispute areas with Vietnam could at least demonstrate that there are alternative ways to approach the South China Sea issue aside from confrontations at sea or contentious arbitration the United Nations.

Ultimately though, if Beijing truly wants to forge an ASEAN–China “community of common destiny,” as President Xi told Indonesia’s parliament, then it will require much more. The two-point political consensus embedded in the new leadership’s cooperation framework holds that promoting cooperation should be based on strategic trust and good neighborliness, while deepening cooperation should be focused on advancing joint economic development. The problem for China, simply put, is that its relationship with ASEAN lacks strategic trust due to lingering security concerns, while prospects for joint economic development are limited by ASEAN’s fear of domination by its larger neighbor. At the ASEAN–China Expo earlier this year, Chinese premier Li Keqiang described the past decade of ASEAN–China relations as a “golden decade” and said both sides have the power to create a “diamond decade” in the next ten years (The Jakarta Post, September 6). But all that glitters is not gold. Indeed, China’s diamond decade may quickly lose its shine if Beijing does not address ASEAN’s concerns in a comprehensive fashion.“

Scheinbar hat Peking einiges Mißtrauen zerstreut, wenn nun die ASEAN-Staaten mit China erstmals Marinemanöver abhalten.Erstmals ist es gelungen, dass China mit der ASEAN als Ganzes ein Militärmanöver abhält und nicht nur, wie bisher mit einzelnen ASEAN-Staaten, wie es auch versucht die Streitigkeiten über das Südchinesische Meer mit den ASEAN-Staaten bilateral zu regeln. Bisher konnte sich China mit der ASEAN nur auf einen relativ unverbindlichen „Conduct“, also diplomatische Verhaltensregeln einigen und war ASEAN nicht einmal bei seinen letzten Treffen eine gemeinsame Erklärung oder gar Standpunkt zum Südchinesischen Meer zu formulieren, nachdem die Philipinen unter Duterte trotz internationalem Gerichtsurteil erklärten, die Fragen des Südchineischen Meeres mit China bilateral zu verhandeln.Ebenso ging Duterte anfangs auch auf offenenen Konfrontationskurs mit den USA, kündigte ein Bündnis mit China und Rußland an, ist nun aber zurückgerudert, da die Trump-USA seinen Krieg gegen Drogenhändler und den islamistischen Terrorismus unterstützt, Menschenrechtsfragen für irrelevant erklärt, ja Trump einen Krieg gegen Drogen nach Beispiel Dutertes auch für die USA ankündigte, wie auch Duterte fürchten musste, dass das traditionell US-freundliche Militär gegen ihn putschen würde.

Ebenso rücken viele ASEAN-Staaten näher an China, da die USA das Freihandelsabkommen TPP gecancelt haben.Zudem hat China seine aggressive Rhetorik bezüglich des Südchinesischen Meeres momentan zurückgefahren. Dies bewegte wohl die ASEAN-Staaten als Ganzes erstmals Marinemanöver mit China abzuhalten. Dennoch handelt es sich im wesentlichen nur um Katastrophenhilfeübungen.Ebenso bleibt abzuwarten, inwieweit es Peking gelingt, diese Manöver zu institutionaliseren, etwa in einem alljährlichen Rythmus oder ob dies mehr eine punktuelle oder temporäre Angelegenheit bleibt, zumal falls Peking wieder expansiver im Südchinesischen Meer auftreten sollte.

Umgekehrt schlafen die USA auch nicht.So besuchte nun erstmals seit dem Vietnamkrieg im März 2018 ein US-Kriegsschiff den Hafen des vietnamesichen Danangs, was einige Kommentatoren nun zu Spekulationen treibt, ob sich Vietnam vielleicht mit Washington gegen China verbünden und vielleicht sogar Mitglied des Quads werden wolle. Die chinesische Global Times jedoch sieht dies in einem Kommentar recht gelassen. Vietnam wolle vor allem seine außenpolitischen Beziehungen diversifizieren und breiter aufstellen, jedoch keine Militärbündnisse oder Mitgliedschaften bei irgendwelchen Verteidigungspäkten eingehen, zudem der Quad vor  alllem aus demokratischen Staaten bestehe, Vietnam aber wie China eine Einparteiendiktatur sei, Vietnam zudem sehr enge Beziehungen wirtschaftlich wie auch politisch, ja sogar auf Parteiebene mit China und der KP China unterhalte.

„Hanoi tactful in developing major power ties

By Ge Hongliang Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/25 20:33:39
Whether Vietnam will become a part of Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy has triggered heated discussions worldwide. While observers unanimously take a negative view of it, they believe Hanoi’s hob­nobbing with the so-called democratic Quad of Washington, Tokyo, New Delhi and Canberra suggests that the Viet­namese government wants to estab­lish closer ties with these countries. American analysts point out that given Hanoi’s polity, it lacks common values to cooperate with the so-called Quad. Besides polity, many other factors also prevent Vietnam joining the alli­ance.

High-level Vietnamese officials have recently become a center of attention for their public remarks on the South China Sea. Hanoi’s relations with Washington and other major pow­ers have been thrust under the media spotlight especially after the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson made a historic call at Da Nang. But these just embody Vietnam’s pragmatic, intensive and multifaceted diplomacy.

Since the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Vietnamese government has become more pragmatic in diplomacy and is more willing to send officials to other countries and make its interna­tional presence felt. In the process, Viet­nam’s cooperative relations with China, the US, Japan, India and Russia have become increasingly comprehensive. Vietnam’s expanded diplomatic activi­ties are a result of the country’s Doi Moi (Renovation) policy and are driven by its need for economic and social development.

Vietnam’s Doi Moi policy started in the 1980s and gained impetus in the 1990s as the country got more involved in regional integration and globalization. Hanoi’s participation in the ASEAN in 1995, APEC in 1998 and WTO in 2007 can be regarded as milestones in its integration into the international community.

Since then, Vietnam has accelerated the pace of reform and opening-up. Its Doi Moi policy has seen extraordinary achievements as well, with outstanding progress made in the economy, indus­trialization and urbanization. In this context, the goal of Vietnam’s foreign exchange is clear: to meet the demand of national development and promote reforms and opening-up, for instance, attracting foreign capital and advanced technology to build more factories in the country.

Vietnam’s diplomacy has also become more tactful. This is related to the Beijing-Hanoi row on the South China Sea. Though the Vietnamese government reiterated the need to rein in differences and empha­sized the importance of Beijing-Hanoi talks, which apparently can alleviate tensions in the region, the country hasn’t changed its intention to interna­tionalize the South China Sea issue. It has become more anxious in expecting the US and Japan to intervene since 2010.

Vietnam also hopes to get support from the US, Japan, India and Russia in developing its navy and air force. Washington’s lifting of a ban on arms sales to Vietnam has created more favorable conditions for the lat­ter to purchase weapons from diverse channels.

A tactful Vietnam will not become a part of Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy irrespective of the cost it has to pay. There are also objective reasons to keep Vietnam from being a member of the Quad.

To begin with, the Beijing-Hanoi relationship carries much weight for Vietnam. Both are developing socialist countries. Their state-to-state and party-to-party relations are pragmatic and stable. The Beijing-Hanoi party-to-party relationship has led to an improvement in bilateral ties and promoted progress in trade, investment, infrastructure, cultural exchange and security coop­eration. Vietnam’s relations with the US, Japan, Australia and India cannot be so substantive. For instance, while Sino-Vietnamese bilateral trade volume reached $100 billion in 2017, the figure with India was $7.63 billion.

Washington’s ambiguous Indo-Pacific strategy aims to counter China. Pragmatic dialogue and collaboration among the US, Japan, Australia and India are not often seen. It’s impossible for Hanoi to jeopardize its relations with Beijing for intangible benefits. In addition, there are conflicting values between Vietnam and the West.

All in all, what Hanoi is doing now is nothing more than trying to strike a balance among Washington, Tokyo, New Delhi and Canberra. The only change is that the country has become more tactful with its integration into the international community. „

The author is a research fellow with the Charhar Institute and the College of ASEAN Studies at Guangxi University for Nationalities. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1095127.shtml

Ebenso mehr symbolisch als als game-changing event ordnet dies ein Bericht von Dan Southerland vom 12.3.2018 auf US-gesponserten Radio Free Asia unter Berufung auf verschiedene Experten unterschiedlicher asiatischer und US-amerikanischer Thinktanks ein. Er fragt sich, was dem Kriegsschiffbesuch folgen werde, sieht darin mehr eine symbolsiche Geste, die nur graduelle Annäherungen erwarten lasse. Zwar sei Vietnam und seine Bevölkerung das Land in der ASEAN, das man am leichtesten gegen China aufhetzen könne, doch verhindere die 3-Nein-Politik des Landes feste Verteidigungsbündnisse oder gar Marinestützpunkte. Die drei Nein sind: Keine ausländischen Militärbasen, keine Militärallianzen, keine Einmischung dritter Länder in Konflikte. Ähnlich wie die Iranische Republik nach der Revolution in ihre Verfassung das Verbot ausländischer Militärbasen aufnahm, so gilt dies auch für Vietnam. Wobei Iran ja kurzzeitig Rußland temporär einen Luftwaffenstützpunkt im Iran für seinen Syrienkrieg zugestehen wollte, was dann aber daran scheiterte, dass inneriranische Kritik wie auch das Herumprahlen der Russen den Obersten Geistigen Führer zur Rücknahme dieser verfassungsbrechenden Maßnahme zwangen. Zumal auch die Wahl von Nguyen Phu Trong als neuem Generalsekretär der KP Vietnam eher auf eine Distanz zu den USA zugunsten eines Erstarken der traditionellen Hardliner in der KP Vietnam hindeute. Daher seien keine „Quantensprünge“ bei den US-vietnameischen Militärbeziehungen zu erwarten. O-Ton:

US Carrier Visit to Vietnam Strong on Symbolism, But Follow-up To Be Gradual

Analysts tend to agree that the recent visit of a U.S. aircraft carrier to Vietnam has sent a powerful signal to China that the United States is in the South China Sea to stay.

But aside from the five-day port call’s symbolic significance, several expert analysts caution that Vietnam’s next steps in strengthening defense ties with the U.S. are likely to be both cautious and carefully calibrated.

“The visit always was viewed by both sides as largely symbolic, so at that level it can be viewed as a success,” said Murray Hiebert, a Southeast Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington D.C.-based think tank.

Collin Koh Swee Lean, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, says regarding the carrier’s visit, “I’d caution against getting too far ahead of ourselves in over-reading the ramifications.”

“The follow-on steps will likely remain calibrated and incremental,” says Dr. Koh. “No quantum leaps.”

According to Hiebert, Vietnam will want to move cautiously not only in order to avoid antagonizing China but also because of how improving relations will be received by conservatives in Vietnam’s military, who continue to suffer from an “America syndrome,” a legacy of the Vietnam  War.

Communist Party control

Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that Vietnam is still ruled by a communist party.

David Brown, a former U.S. diplomat and now a journalist who frequently visits Vietnam, notes that Vietnam’s Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong made his career as a Party theorist.

Trong outmaneuvered former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in a power contest at a Party Congress in January 2016 and is now regarded as Vietnam’s leading political figure.

Bill Hayton, an author who has written extensively on China, Vietnam, and the South China Sea for the BBC, says that Trong regarded Nguyen Tan Dung’s most powerful comrades as too individualistic, too corrupt, and too pro-American.

Some of those allies have been given jail sentences or have been ousted from their positions.

And as Hayton notes, Vietnam has a policy of “three nos” when it comes to its foreign relations: no foreign bases on its territory, no military alliances, and no involving third parties in its disputes.

Vietnam isn’t about to sign off on a U.S.-led containment of China, says Hayton.

On the other hand, says David Brown, “if the U.S. chooses to contest China’s bid for hegemony over the South China Sea and its littoral, Vietnam is the essential local partner.”

No other Southeast Asian nation has been willing speak out or to stand up to Chinese incursions in the South China Sea to the degree that Vietnam or Vietnamese citizens have.

More joint naval exercises and joint training are now possible, though, he says.

Beyond the delicacy of handling Chinese sensibilities, deeper U.S.-Vietnam military engagement and arms sales would face a potential hurdle in the fact that Hanoi’s military remains primarily trained and equipped along Russian lines in a relationship dating back to when the former Soviet Union backed the communist North in the Vietnam War.“

Dan Southerland is RFA’s founding executive editor.

https://www.rfa.org/english/commentaries/vietnam-carrier-03122018165043.html

 



Die Kommentarfunktion ist deaktiviert.