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Western Efforts to Increase Influence in Asia-Pacific and the Role of Regional States

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The political conjuncture of the Asia-Pacific Region is built on poles and alliances. In this context, China and North Korea stand out as the countries where the USA of America (USA) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) compete in the region.

After the global economic crisis that started in 2008, China overtook Japan in 2010 to become the world’s second largest economy[1] Beijing has risen to the top of the global supply chain with its growing economy in the following periods[2] This situation enabled China to rise as an actor that advocates multipolarity against the Western axis after the Cold War

The USA and NATO are implementing the containment policy against China, which had advantageous results against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) during the Cold War period.[3] The situation in question also provides a regional framework for the rivalry between Beijing and the West.

Asia-Pacific countries are in the middle of the competition between China and the West. Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea stand out as allies of the West in the region. At this point, Japan and South Korea have a more critical importance in the eyes of the West compared to other actors due to their geopolitical positions, their economic power, their struggle with China, and being states that closely feel the threat from North Korea.

The exercises carried out in the region with the partnership of Washington, Tokyo and Seoul are remarkable. It can be said that these exercises are important in terms of Asia-Pacific geopolitics and Washington-Beijing rivalry. At this point, South Korean President Yoon-suk Yeol said on August 15, 2023 that South Korea and Japan are now partners who share universal values and have common interests. At the same time, he stated that South Korea made trilateral security cooperation with Japan and the USA against threats from North Korea [4]. Yoon-suk Yeol used the following expressions: [5]

“As collaborating partners on security and economy, South Korea and Japan will be able to jointly contribute to peace and prosperity around the world, while cooperating and trading in a future-oriented manner. The importance of tripartite security cooperation between the Republic of Korea, the USA and Japan is growing in the Korean Peninsula and the region. To fundamentally block North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, the Republic of Korea, the USA, and Japan should cooperate closely on reconnaissance assets and share North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile data with each other in real-time.”

At this point, it is important to use the official name of South Korea and to put more emphasis on the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and North Korea instead of China. Because this situation is a concrete output of how much the threat originating from Pyongyang has increased and how uncomfortable Seoul is with this situation.

It can be said that this situation is also beneficial for the USA and NATO. Because the West sees and uses North Korea as a useful instrument within the scope of its strategy to contain China in the Asia-Pacific. As a matter of fact, many of the West’s anti-North Korean moves in the region basically target China as well. As a result, it can be predicted that the tension in Asia-Pacific will not reach a solution in the short term and regional competition will increasingly continue as the current conjuncture continues.


[1] “JP Morgan Bond Chief Bob Michele Sees Worrying Echoes of 2008 in Market Calm”, Consumer News and Business Channel, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/06/09/recession-jpmorgan-bond-chief-bob-michele-sees-worrying-echoes-of-2008.html, (Erişim Tarihi: 13.06.2023); “China Overtakes Japan as World’s Second-Biggest Economy”, British Broadcasting News, https://www.bbc.com/news/business-12427321, (Erişim Tarihi: 13.06.2023); “The World’s Largest Economies”, World Data Info, https://www.worlddata.info/largest-economies.php, (Erişim Tarihi: 14.06.2023).

[2] “China’s Dominance in Global Supply Chains”, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, https://www.gmfus.org/news/chinas-dominance-global-supply-chains, (Erişim Tarihi: 21.06.2023).

[3] “The History of Containment Policy”, Thought co, https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-containment-2361022, https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-containment-2361022, Erişim Tarihi: 21.06.2023).

[4] “Yoon Says Japan is Partner Sharing Universal Values, Pursuing Common Interests”, China Global Television Network, https://news.cgtn.com/news/2023-08-15/China-U-S-S-Korea-Japan-defense-alliance-harms-regional-peace-1mhGvA3xvWg/index.html, (Erişim Tarihi: 21.06.2023).

[5] Aynı yer.

Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan Gülten, 2021 yılında Yalova Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden “Amerikan Dış Politikası” başlıklı bitirme teziyle ve 2023 yılında da Anadolu Üniversitesi Açık Öğretim Fakültesi Dış Ticaret bölümünden mezun olmuştur. Halihazırda Marmara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda Tezli Yüksek Lisans öğrenimine devam eden Gülten, lisans eğitimi esnasında Erasmus+ programı çerçevesinde Lodz Üniversitesi Uluslararası ve Politik Çalışmalar Fakültesi’nde bir dönem boyunca öğrenci olarak bulunmuştur. ANKASAM’da Asya-Pasifik Araştırma Asistanı olarak çalışan Gülten’in başlıca ilgi alanları; Amerikan Dış Politikası, Asya-Pasifik ve Uluslararası Hukuk’tur. Gülten, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.