Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Speech - PRINCIPLES OF PAX PACIFICA

Building the East Asia Security Order
Keynote Address to the Singapore Global Dialogue

Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore
The core objective of the Asian hemisphere in the first half of the 21st century is to avoid instability, conflict or war between China and the United States.
A related objective is that we should do so while at the same time preserving and enhancing the integrity of the current regional and global rules-based order.
In the history of international relations, there is one simple alternative to order, and that is anarchy.
Not only must we preserve the peace and avoid conflict because of the extraordinary human cost of war - now a remote memory for most of our peoples.
But equally because strategic stability has been the essential precondition for the spectacular economic growth and significant rise in individual prosperity that we have seen in our region over the last half century.
There is a further reason why the preservation of the region’s security should remain our central common objective.
We not only owe this to ourselves. We also now owe it to the world at large.
The truth is what happens in Asia now matters fundamentally for the United States, for Europe, for Africa and for Latin America.
Our region is no longer on the margins of the global growth equation.
We have become its central organising principle.
Put simply, if Asian security and prosperity falters, so too will the world’s.
Not only are we approaching a time where the principal economies of the world are those of Asia.
As Kishore Mahbubani recently reminded us, we are returning to such a time when the principal economies of the world are Asian given this has been the case for 1800 of the last 2000 years.
What is occurring, therefore, is a more profound reality than a technical shift in the centre of strategic gravity from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the West to the East.
There are civilizational dimensions to this transformation as well.
Therefore the responsibilities that rest on the shoulders of this generation of Asian leaders are great.
Historians will look back on this time as one when our region’s leadership either demonstrated that they learnt the lessons of the bloody history of modern Europe, or whether they simply set about repeating them.
In this age of globalisation, many around the world find it extraordinary that we could even be having such a conversation about the possibility of future conflict in Asia.
Surely, they would argue, given the extraordinary benefits that have been delivered to the peoples and nations of Asia as a result of decades of globalisation and the sustained economic growth it has produced would make the prospects of inter-state based conflict in the 21st century simply unthinkable.
Regrettably, that is what the nations of Europe said to one another a hundred years ago in the decade leading up to Sarajevo, when economic globalisation was even more comprehensive than is the case today.
Economics does not solve politics.
Politics still matters – and matters fundamentally.  
History is an instructive master for us all.
And it should be for our hemisphere as well.
The truth is, here in Asia, we live in the vortex of two formidable yet fundamentally conflicting forces: those of economic globalisation; and those of political nationalism.
The forces of globalisation drawing us closer and closer together through our economies, our trade, our investment and the technologies that now radically reduce the time and space of the economic and social transactions between us.
At the same time, the forces of ethno-centric nationalism, invariably driven by a toxic combination of competing territorial claims and long-standing cultural animosities.
And the question for us all is this: whether the globalists or the nationalists will win the race that has been set before us.
I say these things not with the detached reflections of an academic observer, but as one who in different capacities has been engaged in the diplomacy of the region over many decades.
And the core point is this: the mindset that we bring to these challenges, the conceptual framework that orders our thinking, the philosophical frameworks that shape our beliefs and are critical determinates of the foreign and security policies we individually and collectively embrace.
Mindsets matter.
For example, we believe that the formidable security challenges we face can be more effectively manages or even overcome by creatively applying the positive principles of common security.
Or is this simply some sort of misty eyed, Wilsonian idealism, doomed to failure, while the real business of real-politic proceeds, negotiating one crisis after another, always fearing that our neighbours are probably planning for the next crisis, conflict or even war.
Australian Foreign Policy in the Region
Australia sees itself as a middle power with both regional and global interests, animated by universal values of open politics, open economies and open societies, and articulated by what we call creative middle power diplomacy.
We in Australia are by instinct optimists about our country’s future.
We are equally optimistic about our region’s future as well.
We have seen how far our region has come over the last half century after Asia emerged from the ashes of the Second World War.
And we believe that we have it within our collective wit and wisdom to craft a common future for us all, China and America included.
Australians feel relaxed and comfortable with our region, as many in the region have in fact chosen to make Australia their home.
Just as we believe the region is increasingly relaxed and comfortable with Australia.
We recognise and respect the deep diversity of our region.
Just as we recognise and respect the fact that much of the region suffered for centuries under European colonial rule.
We have strong bilateral relationships with practically every country in the region, deep economic engagement, large-scale development assistance relationships and rapidly expanding people-to-people contact.
We are also founding members of most of Asia’s principal regional institutions.
And we have an exceptionally active regional and global diplomatic network.
We do not see ourselves as bringing any unique wisdom to the councils of Asia.
Where we can we seek to be as constructive as possible, as innovative as possible, as forward-leaning as possible in dealing with some of the great challenges of our region’s future – from time to time to the exasperation of our friends and neighbours.
It is with this mindset that we in Australia have approached the great challenge of our future – of how best to preserve the peace, security and therefore prosperity of Asia.
For what we see sprinkled liberally across our region is a series of flashpoints each of which is capable of triggering one form of conflict or another.
Historically we have been preoccupied with the big three: the Korean Peninsula, the Taiwan Straits and India-Pakistan and the question of Kashmir.
In Korea we wait to see what unfolds with the new leadership, but remain deeply concerned about the DPRK’s continued nuclear weapons program.
Across the Taiwan Straits we are living through the best of times that we have seen since 1949 – a tribute to sound policies both in Taipei and Beijing, but always capable of political crisis and policy reversal.
With India and Pakistan – the world lives in continuing anxiety as to the consequences of any future Islamist terrorist attacks on the sub-continent.
We must never forget that all three of these disputes involve nuclear weapons states and in some cases, states with highly uncertain nuclear doctrines.
And for our purposes today, I leave to one side the destabilising impact of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its impact on the stability of the wider Middle East and beyond.
In addition to these long-standing disputes, we have also seen new instabilities arising from what was perhaps long regarded as the region’s lesser disputes – namely the conflicting territorial claims of a number of regional states to various islands and surrounding seas in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan.
The truth is these disputes are now more volatile than they have been for more than a quarter of a century.
Incidents at sea are proliferating.
The concentration of naval, air and other maritime assets is increasing and the attendant nationalisms in many countries fuelling the fire.
This strategic, political, military and economic cocktail has become highly potent.
So how then should the region proceed.
Not just China.
Not just Japan and Korea.
Not just Vietnam and the Philippines.
Not just the other claimant states for the South China Sea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
But more broadly, how should we as a region proceed as well.


The South and East China Sea
So let’s reflect briefly on the complexity of these disputes, the interests at stake, the incidents that have arisen and where the diplomacy may lead us.
It is worth reminding ourselves that if we include Taiwan there are six separate claimant states over the Nansha (Spratlys), the Xisha (the Paracels) the Zhongsha (Macclesfield) and the Dongsha (Pratas) and their surrounding seas and sub-sea resources.
The map of these conflicting claims makes the early 20th century maps of the Balkans look simple by comparison.
The overlapping claims are most intense between China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
These claims have resulted in various incidents and conflicts over the decades, most recently and violently between China and Vietnam in 1972 and 1988.
As for the United States, its government has declared that it is neutral on conflicting territorial disputes on the South China Sea, but it has an overriding interest in maintaining freedom of navigation, both as a generic principle of international maritime law, but underlined by the particular significance of these seas to global maritime trade.
As for the East China Sea, and the dispute between China and Japan over Diaoyudao / Senkaku, the dispute goes back to the late Qing Dynasty when the Japanese Government annexed these islands from the Chinese after the Sino-Japanese war of 1895.
After World War Two the islands came under United States control and were only returned to Japan with the Okinawa Reversion Agreement of 1971.
And it is only in the last 15 years that we have seen competing nationalist campaigns between Japanese and Chinese activists in various landings and associated incidents at sea.
Unlike in the South China Sea, the United States recognises Japanese sovereignty over these islands and has stated publicly that they are covered by the terms of the Japan-US Defence Treaty of 1951.
And to complete the regional picture, of course there have also been recent disputes between Japan and Korea over disputed islands in the Sea of Japan.
The interests at stake in each of these conflicting claims differs.
Nonetheless all exhibit a volatile combination of populist nationalism; historical animosities in some cases exacerbated by the dynamics of domestic political transition; oil and gas resources; and, perhaps most acutely, competition for scarce fisheries in a protein deficient region.
The intensification of recent incidents on land and at sea is the cause of rapidly escalating regional concern.
The large-scale presence of state owned and registered fishing vessels, coastal surveillance vessels and naval ships has meant that the statistical probability of incidents at sea has risen.
So too therefore has the statistical risk of escalation, particularly given the large number of government agencies involved in these interventions from various countries.
For example, in the most recent series at the Scarborough Shoal, one report cited more than 100 vessels of different types in highly constrained waters.
The number and intensity of incidents arising from these various disputes is virtually unprecedented.
So what of regional diplomatic efforts to deal with these challenges?
In the South China Sea, China agreed upon a so called Declaration of Conduct (DoC) in 2002.
In 2011 agreement was also reached on the so called guidelines for the DoC.
In effect, these are broad civil commitments to resolve disputes peacefully.
Whereas the substantive diplomacy has been directed towards drafting a comprehensive Code of Conduct aimed at providing a regional diplomatic mechanism to resolve disputes.
In July this year, ASEAN foreign ministers adopted the key elements of the draft Code of Conduct for negotiation with China.
The draft Code now offers mediation and conciliation services by the ministerial-level ASEAN High Council.
If that fails, a second mechanism is offered whereby the disputants may “resort to dispute settlement mechanism provided under international law, including UNCLOS”.
China has indicated that it is willing to begin a dialogue on the code prior to the Foreign Ministers ASEAN Summit, although there have been a range of other more equivocal Chinese voices. 
The most spectacular outcome (or non-outcome) on the recent ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in July was its failure, for the first time in 40 years, to produce an agreed communique.
This was because of ASEAN’s inability to achieve consensus on a reference in the communique to Vietnamese and Philippines concerns about recent incidents in the South China Sea.
This has in turn thrown the spotlight on ASEAN’s future cohesion in dealing with the most sensitive security policy challenges on its agenda.
Finally, on the Diaoyudao / Senkaku dispute, there are no regional diplomatic mechanisms to be drawn on at all in what has become an exclusively bilateral dispute, one that has triggered the worst anti-Japanese protests in China that we have seen since Sino-Japanese diplomatic normalisation 40 years ago.
 Of course our region hopes that century common sense will prevail in the management of all these disputes, and that any escalation will be contained.
But as someone who has watched this region closely over 35 years, I have begun to become concerned about the trajectory we are on.
I firmly believe that none of the leaders of the region whom I have met over the last five years have the slightest interest in intentionally seeing any of these disputes degenerate into armed conflict.
The stakes nonetheless are becoming increasingly high, and we urge restraint and reason on behalf of all parties to these disputes.
The Stability of the Wider Region - the Principles of a new Pax Pacifica
Of course all this occurs in the context of a wider region which is itself in the midst of profound geostrategic and geoeconomic change.
China as of 2010 has become the largest economy in Asia, and as of 2020, by at least one measure, is likely to become the largest economy in the world.
China’s military modernisation is profound, including rapid increases in its defence expenditure and its acquisition of force projection capabilities.
Since the Asian Financial Crisis 15 years ago, China’s foreign policy has also become more assertive in pursuit of its national interests.
The United States has declared that it will remain a Pacific power, maintaining its naval presence by committing 60 per cent of its global naval forces to the region.
Diplomatically the United States has also radically re-engaged the region under the foreign policy activism of Secretary of State Clinton, who has spent more time in Asia than any of her predecessors in US diplomatic history.
Not only has the US bilaterally re-engaged, for the first time it has become multilaterally engaged in the security policy deliberations of the region.
While the US had been a long-standing member of the ASEAN Regional Forum, it is generally accepted that the ARF is limited in scope
That has changed, however, in the last two years.
In 2010 the US became a member of the ASEAN Defence Ministers +8 (ADMM +8).
And in 2011 a full member of the East Asia Summit.
It is critical to remind the Americans, along with the Chinese, and the rest of the world, that the region’s future will not be exclusively shaped by Washington and Beijing alone.
The rest of the region has profound interests at stake as well.
 We also have significant diplomatic and strategic assets to deploy in pursuit of our combined interests and values.
Nonetheless, my overall point remains – is that the overall strategic environment of our Asian hemisphere remains brittle.
And in the absence of effective pan-regional institutions with a political and security mandate and with norms and procedures underpinning a predictable regional security order, there is little regional buffer to soften the blow, or regional ballast to steady the ship, when individual security incidents arise.
Like those we now see before us in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
So what then is to be done?
Back in 2008 Australia launched its vision for an Asia Pacific community.
This caused considerable controversy elsewhere in Asia, particularly in ASEAN, particularly in Singapore.
The reason we did this back then is that our region did not possess a single institution of sufficiently broad membership and sufficiently wide mandate, to embrace the range of political, security and economic challenges that the region may face for the future.
The ARF was too broad and its membership did not meet at summit level.
APEC, while a clear cut economic success, had no political or security mandate and from the outset excluded India.
The East Asia Summit, formed in 2005, possessed the right mandate but excluded the United States.
We therefore had to try to build a new institution or change the mandate of an existing institution.
Our diplomacy helped to do the latter.
We worked closely with ASEAN to ensure that the US (together with Russia) were invited to join the EAS.
We then worked closely with the US to make sure they accepted the invitation.
As those familiar with those processes will recall, neither was a done deal.
The rest is history and the US and Russia are now full members.
In Australia we regard this as the development of the Asia Pacific community by another name.
It is by definition a long-term project – to fashion the concept and the reality of common security and an open regional economy.
Nonetheless for this vision to become a reality, ASEAN must remain at the absolute core of the East Asia Summit.
This is not just because ASEAN has interests at stake. It plainly does.
And it is not just because ASEAN collectively carries significant political, economic and strategic weight. It does.
It is also because ASEAN, despite recent challenges, is itself the single most successful regional instruction in Asia.
Over 45 years, enemies have been turned in to friends; competitors into partners, and internal conflict has, by and large, been avoided.
Given the ideological and cultural diversity of South-East Asia, these are remarkable achievements and a testament to ASEAN regional diplomacy.
These are the reasons why the rest of Asia needs ASEAN to be the vibrant core of the East Asia Summit, the East Asian community and what we have called elsewhere the Asia Pacific community.
I believe the next step, as we work together as a community, is how we use this new platform of an expanded East Asia Summit to create a regional rules-based order for Asia that, over time, changes the mindset of our region from conflict, to incident management, to strategic cooperation.
In other words; to learn the lessons of Europe within a condensed timeframe, and without mindlessly repeating Europe’s mistakes over the centuries.
Early this year, in an address to the Asia Society in New York as Australia’s Foreign Minister, I outlined a concept of what I described then as a new Pax Pacifica.
Distinct from a Pax Americana
But distinct also from any concept of a Pax Sinica.
But instead a Pax Pacifica in which we consciously build the habits, customs and norms of security and strategic cooperation from the ground up.
As I said back then, such a concept does not ignore the underlying strategic realities of the region – the rise of China, continuing military and diplomatic engagement of the United States the region’s future.
Rather it accepts these realities.
But it also seeks to create new possibilities based these realities.
Remember in the darkest days of the Cold War, the Americans, the Soviets and the Europeans managed to conclude the Helsinki Accords.
They developed a Conference on Security Cooperation in Europe, they began to build basic confidence and security building measures to reduce the risk of unintended or accidental conflict.
The truth is, here in Asia, we have embraced very few confidence and security building measures of any description.
That is in part why our security policy environment is so brittle.
So what might the principles of a new Pax Pacifica look like:
First, it must be anchored in conceptual approaches which China, the United States and the rest of us bring to the future shape of the region.            
The Chinese encapsulate their foreign policy vision as one of “a harmonious world” (hexie shijie).
Harmony is a profound concept in Chinese philosophy.
It contains within it the concept of the balance of contending forces.
It contains within it the concept of finding the Golden Mean (Zhong Yong).
It also contains within it classical Chinese virtues or what we would describe as values, or daode.
In fact there is considerable exploratory work under Professor Yan Xuetong at Tsinghua University on how this might be articulated into the debate on the future of the regional and global order in his book “Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power”
For a non-Chinese audience this may seem entirely academic and abstract.
But in China’s political tradition, philosophy matters. Ideas matter. Concepts matter.
Not just for reasons of historical continuity. But also for the practical reason that with a Communist Party of 86 million members, policy directions have to be explained in concepts which are also comprehensible within Chinese political elites.
The creative challenge lies in how such concepts (and the language associated with those concepts) is translated and interpolated into non-Chinese conceptual frameworks, which are in turn comprehensible to the rest of us.
For example, for any international relations scholars present today, the so called paradigm debates within the international relations discipline in the West (realism, neo-realism, liberalism, neo-liberalism, idealism, structuralism, post-structuralism, communitarianism) are by and large alien to China’s domestic debate.
While there are obvious commonalities (for example the ‘Art of War’ by Xun Zi on the one hand, and Machiavelli on the other) closer analysis also reveals deep differences between traditional Chinese and Western statecraft, including diplomacy.
On the question, however, of a “harmonious world”, China’s current foreign policy mantra, there is a clear conceptual overlap with the idea of a multilateral rules-based order.
Multilateralism seeks to harmonise conflicting positions.
Multilateralism seeks to find a way up the middle.
Multilateralism is also potentially capable of incorporating values that may be universal in nature, but values which may go by different names in different cultures.
Therefore at a conceptual level, one practical recommendation I would make is that important intuitions such as RSIS and their counterparts in China, Australia and elsewhere in Asia, should embrace a common research project on producing a conceptual framework on a multilateral rules-based order for East Asia that draws on a range of philosophical traditions.
I believe in China, as well as in elsewhere in Asia, this would be seen as a mark of respect.
It would not constitute the abandonment of core principles.
Rather it would avoid the risk of these core principles simply being lost in cultural or even linguistic translation.
Perhaps such a concept paper might be presented to relevant officials and ministers in the lead up to the 2013 East Asia Summit.
A second area of concrete work that could be advanced to embrace this concept of a new Pax Pacifica is to be clear about some basic principles.
One, that China’s peaceful rise should be accommodated by the United States and by the rest of the region, and that China has legitimate national security interests.
Two, China equally needs to accept that continuing US strategic presence in the region is normal and that US alliances are to be respected.
Three, that China and the US need to accept that the other member states of the region also have major equities in the region’s future, and hence an equitable voice in the region’s management.
Four, that all states should collectively develop, agree and accept the basic norms of behaviour for our regional rules-based order.
Five, this should include the non-use of force in dispute resolution.  
Six, region-wide dispute resolution mechanisms along the lines outlined in the TAC and the ASEAN Code of Conduct.
Seven, the freezing of all existing interstate territorial claims, and the development of protocols for joint development commissions for the common extraction of resources from disputed territories.
Furthermore, the EAS and the ADMM +8 should enhance a program of practical action to create a set of confidence building measures to enhance regional security cooperation:
First, hotlines between the relevant national security agencies within all member states to deal with incident management (RSIS has already done valuable work on this subject);
Second, detailed protocols for managing incidents at sea;
Third, regular high-level meetings between all the region’s militaries so that networks and relationships are developed over time;
Fourth, joint exercises in search and rescue and counter disaster, counter-terrorism and counter-organised crime; and
Fifth, in time, transparency of military budgets and national military exercises.

The basic reality is this, most of our armed forces are trained to fight and win wars.
If at the same time we have a number of them engaged in a complex network of confidence and security building measures, including joint exercises and joint operations in counter-disaster, it is remarkable what impact this could have on our collective security policy mindset over time.
For example, if you are to ask the good people of Asia what their number one physical security threat is today, they will most likely respond natural disasters.
Why not respond to their stated needs, consistent with the Australian and Indonesian paper agreed to at the last EAS Summit – and turn this vision into a reality.
A fourth and final practical recommendation in developing a Pax Pacifica (or what perhaps might one day be called the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Asia – OSCA) is it must be inclusive of both the EAS and the ADMM +8, both of which have an identical membership, the former with heads of government and foreign ministers, the latter with defence ministers.
On one level, an EAS at Summit level can help agree on the broad directions for security policy cooperation.
At a different, practical level, the ADMM +8 could be given specific responsibility to develop the raft of Confidence and Security Building Measures referred to above.
Fifth and finally, the EAS over time will need a dedicated secretariat.
For various reasons, the analogy with Brussels does not quite work.
The EAS is not an alliance. Nor is it an economic union.
But the truth is that Brussels as an intuition (both NATO and the EU) has had a remarkable and positive impact over the decades in taming the passions of rabid nationalism in Europe.
In time our good friends in ASEAN should give consideration to the hosting of an expanded EAS secretariat function.
Because the truth is, none of the above will happen by magic.
Or by permanently rotating chairs.
We will need to start to think together as a region – as we shape together the region’s future.

Conclusion
I remain an optimist about Asia’s future.
As a practitioner, I am accurately conscious of all the complexities and difficulties associated with the proposals,  I have put forward look forward to begin to craft this Pax Pacifica.
But I am equally determined that our region, our hemisphere, should not simply drift into conflict by default.
I have never accepted the proposition that human conflict is inevitable.
I most certainly do not accept the position that conflict between China and the United States is inevitable.
Nor do I accept the banal position that somehow the region must “choose” between China and the United States.
Hillary Clinton said recently there is enough room in the Pacific for both the United States and China.
Hillary is right.
I would add there is also plenty of room for the rest of us with our individual and collective voices as well.
And together with creative diplomacy and active statesmanship, despite all the complexity, we can craft together an Asian hemisphere grounded in the principles of the common security of us all.

1 comment:

  1. Concerning Pax Pacifica and the emphasis on the region, point four should really be point 1 as there is more geographical leaning to the Pacific.

    ReplyDelete