“What exactly is a dynamic world order?”
Analyzing the latest move of the US to call on the members of ASEAN, it would seem the US has not gotten away with the habit of calling its allies to seek reassurance it would always be around to assert its declared policies like containing and isolating China. The US’ role is more of a security blanket to exercise its unipolar power and make adulation to their conceived “dynamic” world order.
US motivations are being questioned. Why?
First, ASEAN has gone a long way since its inception in 1967. During that era, the US almost monopolized trade. As a single trading partner, it nearly commanded 50 percent of all exports from the members. It was understandable because the US holds more than 70 percent of the world’s manufactured goods.
However, China today has overtaken the US in the export of manufacturing and is equally competing in the importation of raw materials from ASEAN.
Second, the ASEAN, becoming an industrial bloc, the member-countries compete among themselves. This naturally led to the diversification of exports, which is the reason why the US has to increase the value of its currency to increase their profit, unaware that such a strategy would equally diminish their market.
Third, the ASEAN ratification of RCEP in effect expanded the coverage of the trade bloc to include countries outside the region. Countries outside of RCEP, in anticipation to the completion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), took advantage of the rights and privileges given under the new Eurasian railways with China at the top because the terminal hub begins in China to put into operation the global supply chain. US refusal to join RCEP allowed itself to be left out of the global market.
Fourth, the fading of the traditional colonial exports like sugar and copra have given way to accelerate land reform. This in turn forced countries to cut their colonial bondage with the US, as when the Philippines did not extend the lopsided Laurel-Langley Agreement in 1974. Colonial-based exports have been pinpointed as the cause of social unrest in most underdeveloped countries. The colonial or “traditional” exports like coconut oil and coffee served to reconsolidate control and ownership of agricultural lands, mostly by the local elite who generated much wealth through the export of these products.
The demise of these colonial-based products was attributed to two factors: First, the decoupling of the US dollar from the gold standard, thus forcing exporting countries to diversify and command higher value for their exports. Second, the competitive challenge posed by China’s maintaining a reasonable value to their currency allowed other countries to take advantage of the policy of true multilateralism, which is open and free from US economic sanctions.
Fifth, the novel idea to produce arms among Asian countries to increase the value of their exports; or to pursue their own security interest is totally different from the US and from other former colonial countries. Asian countries, particularly China and India will never convert the region as an Asian version of NATO as UK’s foreign minister Lis Trass would propose. NATO today has been reduced as a US dominion, an ideal ground for the US to launch a proxy war.
NATO members are allies willing to shed blood for the cause of the US, and to start a proxy war will be a windfall for the giant US arms manufacturers. In fact, it saved the US economy from decay and financial mismanagement though unabated revaluation of its currency, over-printing of US dollar, gargantuan foreign debt, and the loss of market for its exports.
The diversification of exports and the manufacture of arms among Asian countries has considerably weakened US revenue and concomitantly its policy for the whole of Asia. Many countries like Japan, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand are manufacturing a variety of weapons although countries like Japan and South Korea are mostly under license from US arms manufacturers. It is only Taiwan whose arms industry is wholly circumscribed to the US policy, which is to contain China.
Asian arms producers have limited markets and have no colonial ambition to produce and sell sophisticated weapons to influence other countries. In fact, Asia cannot match NATO’s requirement that each member must contribute 2 percent of their GDP for the defense of the alliance. If this happens, the US arms manufacturers will be singing hallelujah for having on their side mules volunteering to fight their cause.
The US continues to have a grip in its arm sales in the Philippines mainly due to the existence of our defense agreement. Our military agreement undoubtedly includes our purchase of weapons and the provisions to US military advisers dictating to us what they see fit for our use, often overpriced and unfit for our armed forces.
Sixth, the latest US economic assistance of $150 million for the ASEAN to allegedly shore up the association’s economy is a drop in the bucket. Many of the member countries could see the disparity given them to what it now offers to embattled Ukraine of $40 billion arms package by the US Congress to fight the Russian invasion. The offer of assistance is conditioned on China lending the US additional loan. Senator Rand Paul already raised the objection of the US sustaining a war in a foreign land based on borrowed money, yet giving so little to help countries of Southeast Asia to improve their economies in such crucial areas as “digital economy” and to come out with better standards for their emerging technologies.
The package seeks to bolster Southeast Asia’s climate, maritime and public health infrastructure in pursuit of its interest in the alleged increasing military aggressiveness of China in the South China, and in defending the freedom of navigation on the rule-based order of international law.
The total amount of COVID-19 vaccines alone allocated by China, which arrived in airlifted batches, were given to millions of our people for free.
The US has refused to join RCEP for it seems that China would play a lead role in directing the flow of the trade. The RCEP is made up of 10 ASEAN countries and five partners namely China, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. The refusal of the US is a great loss because RCEP today is the biggest trade bloc in the world covering a market of 2.2 billion consumers and accounts for more than 30% of the global GDP and about 28 percent of the global trade.
The summit called by the US with ASEAN partakes of a tall order. If one has to examine what China and other countries in the region contributed, many of them already spent billions in the fight against pandemic compared to the amount allocated by the US. The total amount of COVID-19 vaccines alone allocated by China, which arrived in airlifted batches, were given to millions of our people for free.
The use of rule-based order in international relations is something of a catchphrase. Remember, the order is a rule imposed by the US, and made part of international law by the US because it was issued as a unilateral policy. A rule-based order must be based on and approved by international law through convention or by the UN Security Council. In this case, the so-called rule-based order is merely a policy pronouncement made by the US President or by the State Department with the cavalier imposition of their usual unilateralist policy.