A Malásia e a China concordaram em resolver suas disputas envolvendo o Mar do Sul da China através da Associação de Nações do Sudeste Asiático (ASEAN). Pequim e Kuala Lumpur decidiram que as questões marítimas devem ser resolvidas através da Declaração de Conduta das Partes no Mar do Sul da China e que a ASEAN, junto com a China, deve acelerar a conclusão de um Código de Conduta para a região. Decisão foi tomada após a ocorrência de um número crescente de casos de pescadores chineses em território marítimo malaio.
Nesta quinta-feira (05/05), Indonésia, Filipinas e Malásia chegaram a um acordo para a realização de patrulhas marítimas conjuntas para um melhor policiamento de rotas comerciais no sudeste asiático. Medida foi tomada para combater o crescente número de casos de pirataria na região. Na reunião de ministros de relações exteriores e representantes das forças armadas dos três países na cidade indonésia de Yogyakarta, também ficou acordado o estabelecimento de uma linha direta entre os três para lidar com crises regionais e um mais intenso compartilhamento de inteligência.
No início de fevereiro, a Malásia anunciou a maior compra de armas dos Estados Unidos em mais de 20 anos. Seis helicópteros de ataque leve MD 530G devem ser entregues, junto com um pacote customizado de armas, entre o final deste ano e 2017.
Na última semana (08/10), um oficial dos Estados Unidos informou que o progama “Southeast Asia Maritime Law Enforcement Initiative” (Iniciativa de Aplicação das Leis Marítimas Do Sudeste Asiático) atingiu US$ 100 milhões em fundos para quatro países da Associação de Nações do Sudeste Asiático (ASEAN): Indonésia, Malásia, as Filipinas e Vietnã. A iniciativa inclui a construção de capacidade estatal, infraestrutura, aquisição de equipamentos (incluindo navios) e o suporte para a cooperação regional.
Confira aqui um artigo publicado no jornal The New York Times que explica os principais pontos da “Parceria Trans-Pacífico” (TPP), considerada o maior acordo regional de comércio da história, assinado no início de outubro deste ano. A TPP, com os Estados Unidos, Japão e mais 10 países, além das reduções de tarifas, estabelece regras e padrões para áreas como a farmacêutica, a ambiental e a dos direitos trabalhistas. O tratado ainda precisa ser ratificado pelos países signatários, onde encontra forte oposição.
Moedas de países emergentes da Ásia têm enfrentado dificuldades frente ao recuo dos mercados emergentes. Com grandes índices de desvalorização monetária e altos riscos de investimento, o cenário de queda dos preços de commodities tem preocupado as nações diretamente influenciadas pela economia da China, país que tem registrado recordes na queda das suas bolsas. A Tailândia já registrou a maior desvalorização dos últimos seis anos, enquanto a Malásia e a Indonésia registraram quedas inéditas em 20 anos. A valorização do dólar também encoraja que investidores apostem em investimentos mais seguros, prejudicando países com valores significativos em dívidas.
Em visita do primeiro-ministro malaio Najib Razak a Tóquio esta semana, Japão e Malásia elevaram suas relações bilaterais para o status de parceria estratégica. Entre os tópicos que devem ser focados estão a cooperação multilateral global e regional, economia, cultura e paz e segurança. Um ítem específico que recebeu grande atenção foi a segurança marítima: ambos os países têm interesses marcados no Mar do Sul da China e preocupam-se com a crescente influência de Pequim na região; o Japão deve fortalecer a guarda costeira da Malásia.
Koh Swee Lean Collin analiza os desafios que os países da ASEAN devem enfrentar para realizar aquisições militares conjuntas. Vietnã e Filipinas são dois países que, com as disputas no Mar do Sul da China, estariam interessados em fazer aquisições conjuntas. Para isso, se deve levar em conta dificuldades políticas, operacionais e técnicas.
As Marinhas dos países da ASEAN estão modernizando rapidamente suas capacidades anfíbias, enquanto suas intenções permanecem nebulosas. A concomitante modernização da Marinha da China e o aumento das disputas no Mar do Sul da China podem ser catalisadores deste processo, especialmente para Filipinas e Vietnã.
Cinco novos membros não-permanentes do Conselho de Segurança das Nações Unidas foram eleitos nesta semana pela Assembleia Geral da ONU. Angola, Espanha, Malásia, Nova Zelândia e Venezuela foram eleitas para mandatos de dois anos. Apenas Espanha foi eleita numa segunda votação, não tendo recebido dois terços dos votos num primeiro momento.
A região do estreito de Malaca, entre Malásia, Indonésia e Cingapura, está sendo palco de um número cada vez maior de casos de pirataria. Conexão entre o Oceano Índico e o Mar do Sul da China, é pelo estreito que passa 40% do comércio mundial. Até 2009, uma força-tarefa internacional tinha reduzido os casos de pirataria, que agora voltam a aumentar.
Os esforços na realização de operações de busca e salvamento pelo avião desaparecido da Malaysian Airlines mostram um raro sinal de boa vontade e cooperação no Mar do Sul da China.
A China está utilizando 10 satélites em operações de busca para encontrar o avião malaio Boeing 777-200 que desapareceu em voo entre Kuala Lumpur, capital da Malásia, e Pequim. O objetivo é a realização de imagens de alta resolução das áreas onde ocorrem as buscas.
Os países do sudeste asiático estão tentando aumentar suas frotas de submarinos. Contudo, não há uma corrida armamentista, apenas uma proliferação da tecnologia.
Grupos insurgentes separatistas no sul da Tailândia expandem seu raio de ação e sua intensidade de ataques, mas a recente instabilidade política em Bangkok tirou atenção da situação.
Quase todos os países do sudeste da Ásia, tais como Indonésia e Vietnã, estão comissionando submarinos convencionais para suas Marinhas. De cinco a dez anos, os mares da região, especialmente o Mar do Sul da China, testemunharão um aumento no número de submarinos em suas águas, tornando-os quase congestionados.
Caso um “Canal da Tailândia” seja construído no Istmo de Kra, grandes consequências geopolíticas ocorreriam e o Sudeste Asiático poderia dinamizar seu desenvolvimento com possível prejuízo para a Malásia e Cingapura.
How a Thai Canal Could Transform Southeast Asia
The Diplomat – 01/12/2013 – por Ankit Panda
Southeast Asia’s salience as a major strategic nexus for maritime trade is well appreciated. The Strait of Malacca is the doorway from the Indian Ocean to the broader Asia-Pacific region and enables the transport of water-borne crude delivery and other strategic resources to East Asia’s many ports, from Manila to Tokyo. It’s not surprising then, that the idea of a canal through the Kra Isthmus in Thailand has been a topic of interest for seafarers, traders, and geostrategists since roughly the late-17th century.
A glance at Southeast Asian geography, and the merits of such an idea are immediately apparent — doubly so to seafarers. The Kra Isthmus, a mere 44 kilometers at its thinnest point, would render the current necessity for navigating south and around the entire Malaysian peninsula in East-West transit obsolete, connecting the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea. The fuel and time savings wouldn’t be as great as they were in the case of the Panama or Suez canals, but a Thai Canal (also known as the Kra Canal) could assuage some of the overcrowding currently experienced in and near the Strait of Malacca.
So, if the canal is such a great idea, why hasn’t it been built?
The answer to that lies partly in history, and partly in contemporary politics. In short, not everyone thinks it’s such a great idea. Historically, one of the first serious attempts to study the feasibility of such a canal was conducted by the French Engineer De Lamar in the late-17th century, at the request of King Narai of Siam. The idea was tabled due to its technological unfeasibility at the time. It resurfaced a century later under King Rama I, again to no avail. During this time, the Thai Monarchy recognized the strategic importance of a canal in facilitating its own troop movements.
Subsequently, the British East India Company tried to conduct a survey but abandoned the project when it became apparent that the mountainous geography inland would make the development of a sea-level canal prohibitively expensive. In the late-19th century, the British Empire – in the interests of protecting the dominance of Singapore as a major regional hub – agreed that it would not build a canal through the Kra Isthmus. This policy later crystallized as Article 7 of the 1946 Anglo-Thai Treaty which states that ”The Siamese Government undertake[s] that no canal linking the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Siam shall be cut across Siamese territory without the prior concurrence of the Government of the United Kingdom.” The Thai government, conceding to the treaty at the end of World War II and Japanese occupation, did not resist these limits on its development.
In the 20th century, following European decolonization and Thailand’s emergence as a constitutional monarchy, the Thai Canal project received little attention, at least until the 1980s. In October 1983, EIR and the Fusion Energy Foundation – both founded by the controversial American politician Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr – briefed Thailand’s Ministry of Transportation on the construction of the canal. Their main pitch focused on the dynamism it would bring to the Thai economy. These discussions in the 1980s also incorporated several Japanese firms, including the Mitsubishi Research Institute. Discussions on how to build the canal became particularly creative in the 1980s when certain Japanese engineering firms suggested the use of Peaceful Nuclear Explosives (PNE) to bore a path for the waterway through the mountainous terrain.
After a lull, the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s reinvigorated interest in the canal. Japan’s Global Infrastructure Fund (GIF) conducted a feasibility study, which estimated a cost of $20 billion for a 50 kilometer canal across the Kra Isthmus. During Thaksin Shinawatra’s tenure from 2001 to his ouster in 2006, the project was once again placed on the backburner amid other, more-pressing issues. Yingluck Shinawatra’s ascent to power has brought the canal back to the limelight. According to one expert “Her party has voiced its commitment to reviewing and reinstating various development projects, including the Thai Canal, which aimed to develop and mend the country’s economy.”
The creation of a canal isn’t a geopolitical fait accompli by any means. Given the disruptive effect on the trade status quo emerging from such a canal, Thailand’s partners in ASEAN and elsewhere in Asia have a variety of views on the project.
For Malaysia and Singapore, debates on the canal are somewhat zero-sum, since diverting traffic and activity away from the tip of the Malaysian peninsula is detrimental to both their interests. The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that Malacca’s importance to global energy trade isn’t shrinking anytime soon; it writes that Malacca “is the key chokepoint in Asia with an estimated 15.2 million bbl/d flow in 2011, compared to 13.8 million bbl/d in 2007.” It remains the shortest route between Persian Gulf suppliers and East Asian oil consumers — something the Thai Canal threatens very directly. Were the Thai Canal to be built, Malaysia and Singapore would suffer somewhat, but Malacca will always remain strategically salient for trade between the Persian Gulf and Indonesia or Australia.
Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam would benefit greatly from a canal. For Myanmar, its littoral remains isolated from the South China Sea nexus of the other Southeast Asian states, making trade between it and sea-based Southeast Asian partners reliant on the Malacca passage. The Thai Canal would reduce the costs of sea-based trade significantly for Myanmar. Cambodia is already expected to galvanize economic growth along its coastal cities via the Greater Mekong Subregion Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) – a project the Thai Canal and the associated increase in maritime traffic along the Cambodian coast would only accelerate. Vietnam, which receives 90 percent of all its consumable goods and commodities via the sea, could find itself on track to rival Singapore as a major Asia-Pacific trading hub.
India, Japan and China – all net importers of energy – would benefit from having trade traverse the Kra Isthmus as well. Thailand, which has enjoyed a strategic economic partnership with China, could easily pitch the project to Chinese investors. China, in an attempt to demonstrate regional leadership and goodwill towards ASEAN, would do well to provide capital backing – indeed, reports from the late 2000s appear to have anticipated this. For India, a Thai Canal is a direct assist to its “Look-East” Policy, which promotes greater engagement with Southeast Asia. Given the current state of Indo-Vietnamese relations, the canal would also improve India’s access to a major strategic partner on the South China Sea littoral.
Assuming that the Kra Isthmus would be subject to the same or at least a similar international regime of law as the Suez Canal, it would remain strategically insulated and open were conflict ever to evolve in the South China Sea. Currently, joint U.S.-Indian patrols of the Straits of Malacca are a source of discomfort for China. The U.S. doesn’t have any bases in the immediate vicinity, but the Seventh Fleet’s activities certainly necessitate a clear and open Malaccan passageway. For India, an excessive Chinese stake in the development of the Thai Canal would lend credence to an additional pearl on the China’s perceived “String of Pearls” strategy.
The debate on the Thai Canal also remains alive and well in Thailand, where proponents of the canal flaunt its economic benefit and opponents fear that a canal physically isolating the southern part of the country could galvanize separatist movements. There are five Muslim-majority districts south of the proposed canal. During the final years of Thaksin Shinawatra’s tenure, the Thai government cracked down on separatists on the Kra Isthmus. Since then, Thailand-Malaysia relations have become strained over Thai accusations that Malaysia supported separatists in the south. The construction of a canal in these circumstances could add physical isolation to what is now political isolation along ethnic lines — Thai separatists are largely ethnic Malay Muslims. The Thai Canal thus remains a deeply polarizing topic in Thailand.
If constructed, the Thai Canal would deeply transform the strategic and economic landscape of the Asia-Pacific. The onus is on Thailand to take the ultimate steps towards bringing the canal to reality, balancing its national security and economic interests in the process. The project also represents a significant opportunity for Southeast Asian multilateralism and cooperation. ASEAN could demonstrate its maturity as a regional institution by cooperating on the development of the canal (respecting its policy of “non-interference” in the affairs of member states). Additionally, India, Japan and China – given their interests in the development of such a canal – could contribute capital and political leverage in bringing this four century-old idea to life. However, despite its great promise, the geopolitical implications of the Thai Canal are every bit as delicate as the canal itself is transformative. Realistically, those hoping to see the Thai Canal become a reality may have to wait a little longer.
China e Malásia concordaram em realizar exercícios militares conjuntos em 2014, com forte elementos navais. A primeira consulta de defesa e segurança entre os dois países ocorreu em 2012.
China and Malaysia To Hold Maritime Exercises: What Gives?
The Diplomat – 15/11/2013 – por Ankit Panda
In a somewhat novel maritime development in the South China Sea, China and Malaysia have agreed to hold joint military exercises next year, following up on a Memorandum of Understanding the two signed in 2005. The exercises were confirmed by Malaysian defense minister Hishammuddin Hussein towards the end of October. The two states formally held their first defense and security consultation in Kuala Lumpur in late 2012.
Despite the vagueness of the statement, Hishammuddin confirmed that the exercises would contain a strong maritime element. Beyond the fact that the drills are planned for next year, there are no details about their scope, location, or which military branches will participate. According to Defense News,Hishamuddin invited his Chinese counterpart, General Chang Wanquan, “to visit the Malaysian naval base of Mawilla 2 in the South China Sea on the island of Borneo.”
The announcement came just two weeks after reports that Malaysia would establish a marine corps and a naval base close to the James Shoal, which in waters in the South China Sea (SCS) claimed by both China and Malaysia. According to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) is expected to set up a base at Bintulu in the South China Sea “to protect the surrounding area and oil reserves.”
The James Shoal – 60 nautical miles from this location – was the site of a PLAN exercise in March 2013. Janes cites that exercise as an example of “China asserting its claims to most of the SCS.” It continues that the marine corps announcement “follows a number of unpublicised incursions by Chinese naval and maritime surveillance forces into Malaysian waters off East Malaysia and the Malaysian portion of the Spratly Islands.”
In a piece written in March 2013, appearing in the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s blog The Strategist, Shahriman Lockman underscored the muted Malaysia reaction to China’s exercise at the James Shoal. Lockman said, “the exercise was also notable for the distinct lack of a visible public reaction from Malaysia. Neither the Malaysian Prime Minister nor the Foreign Ministry has made even the most perfunctory statement on the matter. Never mind that a Malaysian naval offshore patrol vessel, the KD Perak, monitored the exercise and issued orders for the PLA Navy to leave the area. And never mind that a standard protest may have been quietly expressed through diplomatic channels.”
In Lockman’s analysis, Malaysia is somewhat of an exceptional case in ASEAN vis-à-vis China on security matters owing to its historical significance, among other factors. On defense issues, the two have pledged to establish high-level cooperation since 2000, when they signed a long-term cooperative framework agreement. Southeast Asia expert and fellow Flashpoints columnist, Carl Thayer writes that the agreement “included a defense clause calling for an exchange program of high-level visits, study tours, seminars, ship visits, and cooperation in training, research and development, and intelligence sharing. In addition, the agreement also called for cooperation between national defense industries to include reciprocal visits, exhibitions, seminars and workshops to explore the possibility of joint or co-production projects.” Thayer notes that China and Malaysia conduct bilateral relations on the level of “strategic partners.”
Xi Jinping has also talked of establishing a “maritime silk road” with ASEAN states – a proposal that was met with considerable skepticism across Southeast Asia given the scope of territorial disputes with China in the SCS. Xi’s proposal is expected to direct Chinese attention and investment towards establishing “a web of trade links and better connectivity between ports and maritime co-operation.” The move to conduct maritime exercises with Malaysia may be an attempt to foment the latter – Xi and Li, during their recent visits to Southeast Asia, did emphasize the concept quite a bit.
The decision to conduct these exercises also flies in the face of ASEAN’s strategy against China. The ten-member body has been trying to present a united front against China, which is perceived as a regional “bully” by some. The Diplomat was unable to determine if the decision to follow-up on the 2005 MOU on Defense Cooperation was initiated by the Chinese side or the Malaysia side. The reaction from other ASEAN states to the decision is sure to be negative, especially considering the very recent flare-ups of maritime disputes between China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess if Malaysia and China are maritime partners or competitors in the South China Sea.
China invests in south-east Asia for trade, food, energy and resources
The Guardiam/ By Kate Hodal – 22/03/2012
Beijing’s growing stake in Asean, the region’s economic bloc, part of a calculated bid for greater military and political influence.
In 2015, south-east Asia will become one sprawling economic zone encompassing Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei. (mais…)
ASEAN to keep out big power competition
Antara News – 16/11/2011
Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA News) – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will not allow itself to become an arena for big power competition, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said here on Wednesday.
He made the statement to newsmen when explaining the results of a series of ministerial meetings ahead of the ASEAN Summit.
“ASEAN will not allow itself to be used as an arena for big power competition,” he said replying a reporter`s question in connection with conditions in the South China Sea and rivalry between the US and China.
He said having adopted this stand, ASEAN was not afraid of risking its good relations with some of the big countries who are members of the East Asia Summit such as the US, China, Russia and Japan. (mais…)
America’s Pacific Century
Foreing Policy / Hillary Clinton – Novembro de 2011
The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.
As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Asia-Pacific has become a key driver of global politics. Stretching from the Indian subcontinent to the western shores of the Americas, the region spans two oceans — the Pacific and the Indian — that are increasingly linked by shipping and strategy. It boasts almost half the world’s population. It includes many of the key engines of the global economy, as well as the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. It is home to several of our key allies and important emerging powers like China, India, and Indonesia. (mais…)
El mar que (dicen) enfrentará a China y EE.UU.
BBC Mundo / Abraham Zamorano – 13/10/2011
Pekín y Hanoi acaban de prometerse paz en el Mar de China Meridional, buenas palabras que va a ser difícil llevar a la práctica en una región que cuenta con todos los ingredientes para convertirse en el próximo polvorín geopolítico mundial. Y donde, dicen los expertos, chocarán China y EE.UU.
El tratado chino-vietnamita prevé medidas como un “teléfono rojo” para casos de emergencia o el compromiso de reunirse para tratar diferencias dos veces al año, acuerdos de cooperación científica y la definición final de las fronteras según las leyes internacionales.
Como apunta el corresponsal de la BBC en Pekín Michael Bristow, toda una declaración de buenas intenciones que no se sabe muy bien cómo se harán realidad un entramado de islas a cuya soberanía aspiran otros cinco países.
¿Por qué? Por ahí pasan las más importantes rutas del comercio marítimo internacional, se estima que posee unas enormes reservas de petróleo que no está claro a quién pertenecen y, sobre todo, son el epicentro del desafío chino a la hegemonía de EE.UU. (mais…)