In late 2011, the President announced his “deliberate and strategic decision” that “as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with our allies and friends.” Obstacles to America’s “rebalance” toward the Asia-Pacific will include Chinese opposition to U.S. leadership in the region, as well as concerns among our allies about Washington’s commitment to the effort. There is also concern throughout Asia that America’s fiscal crisis and likely defense cuts, as well as the ongoing crises in the Middle East and North Africa, will forestall U.S. efforts to play a greater role in the region.
Profound strategic changes are unfolding that have the potential to transform the fabric of the international system. It is unknown whether or not the positive forces of globalization and democracy or the darker forces of mercantilism and authoritarianism will ultimately prevail. What is known is that the struggle between these forces will take foremost place in the Asia-Pacific region, the new epicenter of global affairs. As one of the region’s most prosperous and powerful – and pivotally located – countries, Japan will play a major role in steering the trajectory of future developments in the Asia-Pacific.
Revolutionary advances in unmanned technologies and the prospects offered by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in surveillance, targeting and attack appear to have captured the attention of senior civilian and defense officials in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Given the PRC’s expanding strategic interests, and the associated requirement for an improved command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) infrastructure, UAVs represent a transformational capability for the Chinese military.
Chinese cyber espionage poses an advanced persistent threat to U.S. national and economic security. Groups operating from PRC territory are believed to be waging a coordinated cyber espionage campaign targeting U.S. government, industrial, and think tank computer networks. A dozen of these groups have been identified and linked with the PLA, and others connected with universities and information security enterprises. The largest and most active of these groups may operate from Beijing and Shanghai.
This report on the U.S.-Japan alliance comes at a time of drift in the relationship. As leaders in both the United States and Japan face a myriad of other challenges, the health and welfare of one of the world’s most important alliances is endangered. Although the arduous efforts of Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and his colleagues in both governments have largely kept the alliance stable, today’s challenges and opportunities in the region and beyond demand more. Together, we face the re-rise of China and its attendant uncertainties, North Korea with its nuclear capabilities and hostile intentions, and the promise of Asia’s dynamism. Elsewhere, there are the many challenges of a globalized world and an increasingly complex security environment. A stronger and more equal alliance is required to adequately address these and other great issues of the day.
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