India, China, US cooperation seen on sea lane security

November 22nd, 2008 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 22 (IANS) In the multi-polar system emerging with the rise of China and India, a US intelligence expert not only sees new rivalries but also a lot of opportunities for cooperation on sea lane security.”The US will still remain still the premier maritime power in 2025. And in terms of protecting the vitals, the sea lanes, the US certainly will be the only one capable,” Mathew Burrows, the National Intelligence Council (NIC) counsellor, said Friday.

“The caveat here is that the Chinese Navy, potentially India, will begin to be developing those capabilities,” said the principal author of “Global Trends 2025 - A Transformed World”, a study prepared by the apex body of 16 US intelligence agencies.

The report not only mentions rivalry but also talks about the potential for cooperation, taking a look at “the energy supplies and the long maritime routes that tankers and others have to take”, said Burrows.

“In that sense, there are a lot of opportunities for US, China, India and others to cooperate on sea lane security,” he said.

Burrows did not foresee the emerging powers challenging the international system as “China has an interest in growing, developing materially”.

“I don’t think they want to, particularly during this period, challenge the system because they would see that as disrupting their own rise, and they have a much longer-term perspective, and they don’t see themselves being able to, in any way, challenge the system,” he said.

“And I would say the same thing with India. We are more cautious, less sure in terms of Russia, because we see them challenging the system more,” Burrows added.

Asked about the possible emergence of a democratic system in China, the US expert noted the role of growing middle classes in “not just in China; also in India, and to an extent, in Russia.

“What we see this doing over this next 15, 20 years is, in many ways, putting pressure on governments and regimes in those countries” for keeping the material advantages and growth going on.

“The governments have to be increasingly accountable to those demands by the middle class,” Burrows said. “But we don’t necessarily see democracy, particularly Western-style democracy, breaking out.

“We think in many ways that the material, so long as the material benefits continue to flow in and governments, to the extent that they are accountable, increase the availability of public services - the health, education - that they can maintain at least a semi-authoritarian status,” he added.

The report also talks about the unprecedented shift in relative wealth and economic power roughly from west to east, Burrows said.

“We see this is the basis for the rise, but we see these countries as actually having dual identities in 2025.

“So, in very, very large states - India, China - their GDP will rival practically all countries except the US. However, on a per capita level, they’ll still be relatively poor compared to the West,” he said.

Burrows also foresaw “possible interstate rivalries and conflict over resources. We see a little bit of this already - China, India developing blue navies, worries about maintaining their access to energy, rivalries elsewhere in the developing world and Africa.

“And so this is another concern. It’s a type of conflict we have not seen for some time,” he said.

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