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Ukraine crisis: Asian foreign policy experts give their take on the situation

Published on Mar 6, 2014 2:42 PM
 
Riot police stand guard in front of regional government building as pro-Russian demonstrators take part in a rally in Kharkiv on March 5, 2014. Asian countries are not actively involved in the escalating crisis in Ukraine. But they are certainly paying close attention to how the United States reacts to an uncompromising Russia, for signs of how Washington might react to a future stand-off in the Asia-Pacific region. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Asian countries are not actively involved in the escalating crisis in Ukraine. But they are certainly paying close attention to how the United States reacts to an uncompromising Russia, for signs of how Washington might react to a future stand-off in the Asia-Pacific region. The Straits Times approached several foreign policy experts for their views.

“What's going on (in Ukraine) between Russia and the US won't impact Sino-US relations much. But this is not to say that what's happening between the US and Russia will have no impact on the issues that concern China.
“The biggest impact is that Japan, the Philippines and other US allies can see what's happening, and see America's weakness. This might make them a bit worried, and influence their attitudes.”
- Professor Jin Canrong of the Renmin University in Beijing


"I am sure China is paying close attention to events unfolding in Ukraine and how the diplomatic game is playing out, taking note of the initial successes of Russian President Vladimir Putin's hardline approach. But it is early days to draw conclusions, and it is easy to draw the wrong one.
“As far as I am aware, the US does not have a defence treaty with Ukraine. But it does with various Asian countries, such as Japan and the Philippines. The US responses to Ukraine will be part of a more general EU-US/NATO response, rather than an essentially or at least primarily US response to a crisis that may happen in East Asia.
“To draw any conclusion on the basis of US responses to the tension over Ukraine, where US forces are not forwardly deployed and where no treaty obligation exists as indicative of how the US will respond to a crisis involving one of its formal allies in Asia would be highly dangerous and unwise.
“Saying so does not imply that some Chinese observers or even policy makers may not misread the implications of how the Ukraine issue is being handled by the US.”
- Professor Steve Tsang of the University of Nottingham in Nottingham

 

“I don’t think the American public or the US president is willing to step up to the plate (for the Ukrainian crisis), to go beyond diplomacy. We can expect a lot of obligatory diplomatic noise, but nothing more. I’m sure China is looking at this situation very closely, and we might have a few small adventures (in the South China Sea) in the next few days.”
- Professor Alexander Magno of the University of the Philippines in Manila

 

"(Japan) supports the US stance (on Ukraine). But as has been expressed by many Japanese experts, we are worried about the US stance not only in the Ukrainian situation, but also in Syria, and we are also concerned about US foreign policy in Asia as a whole.”
- Dr Asuka Matsumoto of the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo