Many argue that the proposed concept of "Asian NATO"to counter China's assertiveness in the region may not be as effective as it was in case of NATO to counter Russia. What are possible logics behind such argument? How do you counter such argument? Discuss.

NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance primarily formed to counter the increasing influence of Russia and the communism aftermath second world war. NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
Logic behind the proposed concept of NATO like alliance to fight China

  • China with its economic might is actively pursuing hard power tactics to unilaterally settle the bilateral disputes and establishing fate accompli. This has created instability in the Southern and South eastern Asia.
  • The world is no more a unipolar or a multipolar. Strategic alliances like quadrilateral alliance of India-US-Japan-Australia can act as deterrence against aggressive attitude of china.
  • China is the Second largest economy of the world and is second fastest growing economy. An alliance is a necessity if the countries need to counter Chinese aggression.
  • China is increasing its foothold across the globe through initiatives like maritime silk route and one belt road initiative. These together with stated objective of ensuring energy security and connectivity provide china with a strategic advantage to counter its opponents in the region. This makes NATO like alliance a necessity.
  • China’s rise is perceived as a threat by the neighbors. An alliance of neighbors with other powerhouses of the World will aid in keeping China at check.

Challenges in forming such alliance

  • World is no more a bipolar as at the time of inception of NATO. Hence forming an alliance against a superpower like China doesn’t seem feasible.
  • China has large trade relations with the countries with which it have conflicts. Possible adverse impact on trade will make military alliance a distant reality.
  • An alliance like NATO will give raise to a counter Chinese led alliance similar to Russian reaction to NATO with Warsaw pact and even a third block of nonalignment. The fears of agnoise and backlash may result in large number of countries siding with a block similar to non-alignment.
  • NATO was not just anti-Russian alliance it had an ideology of fighting communism. No such ideology driven organisation is possible against China.
  • There is a huge gap of countries with disparate interests and increasing closeness with Beijing spanning the region. Take for example the Philippines. Once considered a possible linchpin of such a “China Containment Coalition,” the country has for the time being pivoted into the warm embrace of Beijing. Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, just to name a few, are all moving closer to China.
  • US is rescuing itself from the role of policemen of the world and no country is in mood tom take a lead in forming a military alliance.

The world has come long way after post world war II, even though there are alliances and differences between the countries across the world a possibility of having a military coalition against a particular country is a distant reality due to the fact that economical relations have taken over world diplomacy and the economic relations strives to prevent war like situation and military alliances of one against the other.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Many argue that the proposed concept of “Asian NATO” to counter China's assertiveness in the region may not be as effective as it was in case of NATO to counter Russia. What are possible logics behind such argument? How do you counter such argument? Discuss. {250 words, 15 Marks}

Published: April 28, 2018 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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