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ATP through 20-30 years: militarization?

FEFU experts on how the world in Asia can become stronger and more cautious

ATP through 20-30 years: militarization?

Dmitry Shelest

Deputy Director of the Expert-Analytical Center of the Far Eastern Federal University
In the Pacific basin, in the future, removed at 20-30 years, events will take place that will determine the course of world history in the future and the fate of individual states. Using the term ATR, we first of all mean its Asian part: China, South-East Asia, Northeast Asia and the South Pacific. In addition to the states belonging to the mentioned regions of the Asia-Pacific region, such "states of influence" as India and the United States should be considered. 

The forecasted judgments concerning this part of the world are appropriate if the region does not have a full-fledged war with the participation of regular armies or a series of local conflicts that involve several states simultaneously. All this, of course, will erase the considered scenario.

At present, there are a sufficient number of conflict situations in the APR that serve as triggers for a regional arms race: first of all, we note the problem of the Northern Territories, the four southern islands of the Kuril ridge, which have darkened Russian-Japanese relations for more than half a century. The Republic of Korea and Japan have mutual claims to the Dokdo Islands (Tokeshima). Naturally, one cannot ignore the confrontation on the Korean Peninsula, to the West lies the next bone of contention between China, Taiwan and Japan: the Senkaku Islands. In addition to the tense relations between Beijing and Taipei, the two states consider the Pratas Islands as their own. The Paracel Islands are the object of close attention of China, Vietnam and Taiwan. Then come the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Malaysia and the Philippines.

We should not forget about other reasons - internal conflicts and the likelihood of interference in such clashes by neighboring states. In China, this is the problem of Tibet and the Syngjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, in Indonesia, there are Christian-Muslim conflicts and the separatism of East Timor. In Malaysia, there is the possibility of a civil war between Islamic radicals and the secular government. In the Philippines, the issue of Muslim separatism is acute. In Vietnam, there are tensions between Buddhists and government officials. And this is not a complete list of problems.

By virtue of the above, it seems that the future of the Asia-Pacific region is where extrapolation describes the coming reality in both ten and thirty years from now. Unsurprisingly, Alvin and Heidi Toffler, in their book War and Antiwar, talked about the militarization of the Pacific Rim countries back in 1993. Today, according to the Stockholm Institute for International Peace Research, the countries of the Pacific Rim spend more on weapons than other regions - in absolute and relative terms. At the same time, according to the estimates of the Ministry of Defense of Singapore, the aggregate military budget of the APR states by 2020 will increase by 60%.

But before making an "obvious conclusion", one should understand why the states of the region are arming, for which blood can be shed by the middle of the 21st century. In this regard, it is appropriate to proceed from the fact that we are not moving to a certain state of the "brave new world". We are in it! Let at the very beginning, but nevertheless.

Accordingly, messages popular at a certain period, such as the "clash of civilizations" by S. Huntington or more applied ones, such as the "war on terrorism" or "the struggle for resources", will lose their indisputable truth in the form in which they exist at the end of the 20th century. xx years of the XXI century. 
As a hypothesis I dare to assume that the future militarization in the future 20-30 years will not only and not so much reflect current conflicts as a mirror of the ongoing civilizational transformation.

The above-mentioned reasons for current threats and military conflicts are not very well-founded in the conditions of a change in a number of paradigms of modern civilization. Their impact will be felt, but against the background of new challenges, the significance of today's problems will go to shade.

Speaking generally about the military component in the development of the APR in the long term, I would like to note that it seems doubtful that the status quo will remain on a number of geostrategic tenets and current social trends. This perspective hides the possibilities of the future or directly denies them. The same goes for the arms and military equipment markets (B and BT), which will be formed a little differently than is happening today. In particular, it is appropriate to assume that with an excess of armaments a stable secondary market will be formed. In and VT will flow from one hand to another with the general connivance to such a move. In turn, tracking and monitoring tools will allow you to track any movements of large batches of B and VT. That is, in practice, the arms market will become transparent for all interested parties. 

Concerning the changes at the state level, we fix the following assumptions. For example, China, described today as the world hegemon of the following decades, has little to do with the Celestial sample of 2037-2047. These times for Beijing will be the starting point for the overhaul of the building of the entire state. Otherwise, the PRC expects a civil war. At the other extreme will be the most obvious solution in human history - a war with an external adversary. If the Chinese leadership wisely escapes these two extremes, then in any case it will have to look for non-standard solutions. This will prompt the idea of ​​the resettlement of Chinese colonists to African states, draconian measures to comply with environmental standards, and an indicative round of "deprivatization" to reduce tensions in the poorest sections of the population. In this case, Beijing will no longer be a nightmare for neighboring states.

Developed Japan can immerse itself in the migration crisis, similar to what has now overwhelmed Europe. It is also possible to increase the migration flows to the Russian Far East, not so much from China, as from more southern regions. In turn, Indonesia will be under the invisible threat of the Ummah split into numerous sects, which are radicalized by the deterioration of the economic situation in the country. A similar scenario can unfold in Malaysia. Islam can spread more widely in the Philippines, and not in the form of a single religious field, but in the form of eclectic communities. The same is true for the mainland states of Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar): the existing Buddhism in these countries is likely to acquire syncretic features and generate aggressive doctrines towards the Gentiles.

Under these conditions, future terrorism will largely lose touch with religious content and will become more like private military companies or organized crime. State organizations will have to fight both terrorist groups as armed groups and the "sympathy networks" of the local population, for which such groups will duplicate or replace local government bodies (courts) and public institutions. 

Conflict at the interstate level will largely be determined by the delimitation of maritime spaces needed by regional actors to control the adjacent waters. The supra-regional players (the USA, European states) will act through their "operators" in the region: separate state security agencies, religious communities or ethnic clans with military-terrorist specialization and other unions that are atypical for the beginning of this century. In general, the APR, as a gigantic channel for the distribution of transport and resource flows, will be in the hands of states, which by the middle of the XXI century will rather remind of the medieval barons who take bribes from any carriage passing through their fiefs. In this respect, shipping in the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca will continue to be a stumbling block for all parties concerned. In turn, the solution to the problem will consist in the participation of all states in the region, directly or indirectly, in organizing the protection of shipping. Under these conditions, state privateering and opposition from private military companies of other states, the intervention of local communities under religious slogans, and the active activity of global financial and industrial corporations will be local in nature. But this kind of "small-town" approach will be widespread everywhere.   

In the described conditions, regional militarization will solve two problems.

The first is to maintain constant readiness for local conflicts with non-state players, pseudo-state structures, extremist networks, as well as permanent participation in such conflicts.

At the same time, non-state combatants of the future will be rhizome structures whose viability is supported by religious sects, international financial and industrial groups, power structures of antagonistic states and part of the local population.

The second is the maintenance of combat readiness in the case of full-scale hostilities, relatively speaking, in the form of classical wars. In this regard, it should not be forgotten that China will strengthen its nuclear triad by that time, make real national air defense assets, deploy active national or regional missile defense, including the development of a nuclear strike warning system, the development of effective missile interceptors, as well as the national control system for missile defense.

The Chinese Navy will finally become the ocean fleet, and the PLA will be the second largest in the world after the United States in terms of its potential.
At the same time, the United States will continue to build up its military grouping in the Asia-Pacific region, where 5-10 will be concentrated in years to 60% of the country's total military power, for which the United States will increase its military presence in Australia, Singapore and the Philippines by 2020. At the same time, even with a decrease in activity on influence on the states of the region, Washington will be considered a significant factor in the balance of forces in the APR. Such a state of affairs will become an excuse for other states in the area of ​​strengthening combat capabilities, including the development of nuclear weapons.

In the first case, the build-up of B and BT will occur in the following areas: heavy rifle weapons with universal installation capabilities, portable anti-aircraft missile systems (MANPADS), anti-ship missiles with a range of 100 kilometers, unmanned combat systems operating in various environments, small aircraft and combat boats of various purposes with a displacement from 50 to 200 tons, “smart” minefields and local means of controlling the terrain.

Technologically advanced countries with powerful military-industrial complex (China, the United States, Russia) will strive to possess fundamentally new models of weapons and military equipment (laser and electromagnetic weapons, combat autonomous systems), reconnaissance, communications and command and control capabilities, as well as enhance capabilities in strategic areas transfer (the ability in a short time to build up a military grouping in any region of the world) in order to achieve a qualitative superiority over the likely enemy or adversaries.

In addition, active military-political rivalry in space and cyberspace will lead to the deployment by the leading states of orbital strike groups, the constant development and improvement of cyber-defense and cyber-attack facilities. At the same time, the existing regulatory legal uncertainty of the functioning of space and cyberspace will persist until a certain period.

The military-political leadership of all the leading states of the Asia-Pacific region in the formulation and implementation of military policy and specific areas of development of the armed forces will have to take into account the factor of global climate change, entailing an increase in the number of natural disasters and natural disasters, which in absolute majority will be of interstate and even regional nature .

In these conditions, the presence of a state or a group of states with the forces and resources that make it possible to quickly respond to crises and disasters outside the national territory, including carrying out in a short time work with a large number of refugees or injured persons (evacuation, accommodation, food and medical support), recovery infrastructure, the creation of a temporary system of social support for the population of the affected regions or states provides them with extensive opportunities to influence socio-political processes of a regional scale.

Thus, the armed forces of the future will be more compact, mobile and universal, ready to conduct combat operations in all spheres and environments, accomplish tasks completely uncharacteristic of them at the present stage.

As mentioned above, the APR states will strive to maintain readiness for large-scale wars and conflicts and to expand their capabilities in this area. In particular, it can be assumed that Japan and South Korea will replenish their arsenals with nuclear weapons and their means of delivery. In addition, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines will be quite ready to join the nuclear club in thirty years. Speaking of conventional weapons, it is worth noting that even poor countries will be able to afford various options for combat drones, tactical aircraft and short-range missile systems.

As mentioned earlier, the arms trade will be under the total control of all stakeholders. In addition, not only local microconflicts, but also the very possibility of their beginning will be recorded using the means of observation and through the analysis of “big data” by artificial neural networks.

At the same time, comprehensive control in the region will be implemented both through interstate agreements and by the agreements of non-state actors operating in the international field. The scenario outlined directly affects our conclusions, namely: the ineffectiveness of previous conflicts for the participating countries, the increasing number of civilian casualties, the widespread availability of WMD, the disastrous consequences of the destruction of critical infrastructure - all this will cause the alleged parties to avoid full-fledged military actions in the event of a conflict , and the neighboring states take the most stringent steps to stop the inflaming war.

Humanity in general and the APR states are unlikely to ever get a "vaccination against violence", nevertheless, the world of Asia will become "stronger", but more cautious. For the future of 2037-2047, the problem will be that the conditional perigee of conflicts will occur at earlier dates. The potential of current tension lines can split the fragile peace in the Pacific basin before the perspective under study. 
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