A principal challenge to Asian security today is that the various approaches to security order seem to be working at cross-purposes.
Take the United States and China. Washington insists that its rebalancing strategy enhances regional stability.
Sure enough, it is possible to see the military dimension of rebalancing as crucial to maintaining the military balance of power in the region.
But the economic aspect of rebalancing – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) – excludes China and challenges United States-China economic interdependence.
Similarly, China professes a deep interest in enhancing regional economic interdependence.
But its own initiatives, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and One Belt One Road, challenge longstanding modalities of regional economic co-operation.
These developments call for a rethink of existing approaches to security in Asia
The new approach to Asian security might be called security pluralism.
Security pluralism holds that security requires multiple conditions and approaches, rather than any single one, and maintaining a positive relationship among them.
The main conditions of security pluralism are economic interdependence, stability in the balance of power, multilateral institutions, and ideological tolerance and accommodation.
Security pluralism is broader than the familiar Asian notion of “comprehensive security”, which refers to different dimensions of security without clarifying how they relate to each other. And unlike “co-operative security”, which focuses on multilateral institutions, security pluralism recognises the importance of balance of power.
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