President Xi Jinping is attempting to modernise China’s military through wide-ranging reforms. But the reforms are also intended to once again bring the military under the absolute rule of the Communist Party.
The recent visit by Barack Obama to Southeast Asia is a clear elucidation of his Administration’s ambitions for the region. It is becoming clear that both China and the US are competing for regional influence, forcing the ASEAN states to walk a tightrope in their engagement with the two major powers.
The latest crisis between Israel and Palestine highlighted the utility of the Israel Defence Force’s Iron Dome system. It emphasises once again the importance of missile defence and has gained the attention of the United States. Still deemed as a key US priority, it sees cooperation with Israel as integral to developing future capabilities.
Now the election is over and the composition of Congress is known, both Republicans and Democrats must come to a compromise to ensure the smooth running of US foreign policy and to avert the looming threat of sequestration.
The US presidential elections will be watched in Asia for further clues of how the American focus on Asia will manifest in practice over the next four years. Understanding how different Asian states respond according to their own circumstances will keep the next US administration very busy indeed.
Retrenchment will be the dominating theme for US foreign policy whoever wins the presidential elections on 6 November. The next president will face a protectionist Congress; a military undergoing huge defence cuts; and a public opinion that has lost interest in foreign affairs and feels that nation-building should begin at home.