IRIS analysts, Syed Ahmad Israa’ and Asyraf Farique, attended a public lecture by Prof Tosh Minohara of Kobe University, Japan, at the National University of Malaysia (UKM) yesterday. In this lecture which was titled “Quo Vadis Pax Americana”, Prof Tosh discussed extensively about the ‘power transition’ or the ‘hegemonic shift’ that is currently taking place in the world. Prof Tosh started by asserting that the US today is not the US we knew in 1950s when it won over the Soviet and established the Pax Americana, taking the throne from the Pax Britannica before it.
Looming over this declining power is the rise of what was previously a nation known to the world as a ‘victim’ of the humiliation of the West; China. China sees the Opium War and what followed after in term of suffering of its people as a national humiliation, where the Communist party used it as a ground to embark on a 100 year long national dream (1949-2049). The ultimate goal is clear in their sight; to replace the United States as a global leader.
Prof Tosh claimed that the China ambition has led to what he call as the ‘Great Power Competition’. Taking into consideration what is happening in the world economic landscape – the formation of AIIB and the New Development Bank under the BRICS – and in geopolitical landscape – the case of South China Sea and rapid modernisation of China’s military – Prof Tosh brought the audience to recall on the similarity of China expansion of their sphere of influence and control as being the same as what Japan did in the 1930s. Adding to that, he said that in term of cohort Russia to China now is what Germany was to Japan during that period. They are teaming up against the same enemy even though they may not be good friend.
This competition of power and rapid ‘sinicization’ of global politics made Prof Tosh conclude that the possible scenarios in the future is between 4 possibilities, the highest among them in term of likelihood is an all-out Sino-US clash (or World War III) erupting from any accidental event especially in the South China Sea (like what started the WW1), followed by another possible scenario which is a joint stewardship of Sino-US upon global affairs.
Prof Tosh ended his lecture with a bold remark about Malaysia’s current stand in this global dynamics: “Hedging is a way of dealing with the moment. But the fact that this moment is not static suggest that hedging can only be done temporarily. When this moment escalates, hedging may no longer be an option. Do we wait until that time comes or do we plan our stand now?”
Around 40 attendees joined to hear this lecture and participate in a quite heated discussion afterwards. Prof Tosh is here in Malaysia doing an academic tour under the auspices of the Japanese Embassy in Malaysia before going to Vietnam next week.