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Current Trends in Asia-Pacific Geopolitics

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The fundamental security dynamics of the global system are read and understood through the Asia-Pacific region. This is because there are bilateral problems between states in the region, conflicts that create regional problems and issues that resonate globally. It can be argued that the first of these is the Taiwan Question. This is because Beijing sees Taipei as separatists that should be annexed to the mainland, hence the tension between the two actors.

Another important problem is the South China Sea and the Nine-Dash Line, on which there is no agreement. As a matter of fact, Beijing has various claims over this sea, which disturbs many countries. The Philippines, Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan are the countries that stand out in this context and have problems with China over the South China Sea. Despite calls for compliance with international law and compliance with the law of the sea, tensions remain high.

On the other hand, although Japan and South Korea cooperate on the nuclear threats posed by North Korea and the containment of China under the leadership of the United States of America (USA), there are many problems between them. The first of these is the problem of forced labor during Japan’s invasion of South Korea[1] in 1910.[2] Another is the problem of “comfort women” from the same period, which is still not fully agreed upon.[3] There is also the Dokdo/Takeshima Islands dispute between Tokyo and Seoul.[4]

Moreover, the region is in the midst of a serious polarization. Indeed, alliances based on the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) play an important role in regional geopolitics. In this context, it can be argued that the West’s most important allies in the Asia-Pacific are Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The ANZUS Treaty of 1951 with Australia, the United States and New Zealand;[5] the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) with India, Japan, the United States and Australia;[6] and the AUKUS Pact with the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia are[7] concrete examples of the regional manifestations of these alliances. These alliances both increase regional tensions and polarization and make the regional security environment more fragile.

In addition, North Korea’s nuclear threats pose significant regional and global security concerns. Indeed, Pyongyang conducts both Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) and nuclear tests quite frequently. In fact, 2022 was the year in which North Korea conducted the most such tests.[8] For this reason, within the framework of a common threat perception, the US, South Korea and Japan jointly organize drills against North Korea.[9] However, these exercises do not seem to have deterred Pyongyang; on the contrary, they seem to have further provoked North Korea.

As a result, the Asia-Pacific region is characterized by numerous problems. Moreover, it does not seem possible to solve these problems in the short term. In this context, it can be said that the region will be the center of the struggle for influence between the US and China in the near future and will host the fault lines of global security. Perhaps, the actor that gains an advantage in the Asia-Pacific will also assert its superiority in the global power struggle.


[1] “Factbox: Old Disputes Overshadow Visit by Japan’s Kishida to South Korea”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/old-disputes-overshadow-visit-by-japans-kishida-skorea-2023-05-05/, (Date of Accession: 25.05.2023).

[2] “South Kora to Compensative Victims of Japan’s Wartime Forced Labour”, British Broadcast Corporation, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-64858944, (Date of Accession: 25.05.2023).

[3] “Dead End? US’ Two Biggest Allies, Japan&South Korea, Find No Comfort in Ties Over Issue of ‘Comfort Women’”, The Eurasian Times, https://eurasiantimes.com/uss-two-biggest-allies-to-counter-china-japan-south-korea-find/, (Date of Accession: 25.05.2023).

[4] “Japan Protests South Korean Politician’s Landing on Disputed Islands”, Kyodo News, https://english.kyodonews.net/, (Date of Accession: 25.05.2023).

[5] “The United States and Australia: A Vital Partnership fot he Indo-Pacific Region and the World”, U.S. Department of State, https://www.state.gov/the-united-states-and-australia-a-vital-partnership-for-the-indo-pacific-region-and-the-world/, Date of Accession: 25.05.2023).

[6] “No Plans to Add New members to Quad Grouping Now: White House, The Times of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/no-plans-to-add-new-members-to-quad-grouping-now-white-house/articleshow/99924649.cms?from=mdr, (Date of Accession: 25.05.2023).

[7] “AUKUS Deal: United States, United Kingdom and Australia Agree on Nuclear Submarine Project”, British Broadcasting News, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-64945819, (Date of Accession: 25.05.2023).

[8] “North Korea’s Record Year of Missile Testing is Putting the World on Edge”, Cable News Network, https://edition.cnn.com/2022/12/26/asia/north-korea-missile-testing-year-end-intl-hnk/index.html, (Date of Accession: 25.05.2023).

[9] “S. Korea, US, Japan Hold Drills as N. Korea Slams US ‘Nuclear Blackmail’”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/south-korea-us-japan-hold-missile-defence-drills-counter-north-korea-2023-04-17/, (Date of Accession: 25.05.2023).

Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan Gülten graduated from Yalova University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of International Relations in 2021 with his graduation thesis titled "American Foreign Policy" and from Anadolu University, Open Education Faculty, Department of Foreign Trade in 2023. Gülten, who is currently pursuing her Master's Degree with Thesis at Marmara University Institute of Social Sciences, Department of International Relations, was a student at the Faculty of International and Political Studies at Lodz University for a semester within the framework of the Erasmus+ program during her undergraduate education. Working as an Asia-Pacific Research Assistant at ANKASAM, Gülten's main areas of interest are American Foreign Policy, Asia-Pacific and International Law. Gülten is fluent in English.