In August 2014, the analysts from The Economist predicted the year 2021 will be “the year of China’s re-emergence as world’s biggest economy”[1], “when China’s economy will overtake America’s”[2]. They even created an algorithm calculator that uses real GDP growth, inflation and monetary appreciation data in order to generate forecasts regarding the evolution of US vs. China in terms of GDP.

Concerned about the future of the political landscape in the area, China’s close neighbors redefined their short-term national interests by prioritizing bilateral agreements and partnerships as part of an active foreign policy quest aimed at balancing the growing Chinese influence. On December 13, 2014, for example, the Office of the President of the Philippines announced that the “President Benigno S. Aquino III has tabled his plan to form a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with the Republic of Korea (ROK) that aims to bring significant opportunities for the two countries”[3]. “Aquino’s proposal is the latest step in a burgeoning partnership between the two countries as the Philippines looks to modernize its military, in part to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea”[4] added The Diplomat on December 17.

Another similar approach was recorded during the one-day Indo-Russian summit from December 11, when the two regional powers agreed to sign a series of major agreements on defense, trade and energy. “On defense, the two leaders stated their commitment to move ahead with plans for a jointly developed fifth-generation fighter”[5] noted The Diplomat on December 12. Although it was not officially presented to be a joint action meant to balance the increase of Chinese military power, it can be translated as a declaration of energy and military independence from the Indian government, traditionally obsessed by a too powerful China.

Regarding these latest developments, the December 15 issue of The Diplomat described the need of “diplomatic balancing” to be worrying as it “is both a product of and a contributor to the current unstable regional circumstances”[6]. The Chinese aggressiveness, especially regarding maritime issues, has called for a more effective response from its neighbors who considered preventing the arising Chinese hegemony by balancing against it with newly increased economic, military and strategic capabilities. Quite clearly, these balancing attempts will, most probably, generate even more assertive policies in Beijing. The next few years will be dominates, in Southeast Asia and South Asia, by the strategic competition between China and the countries attempting to balance, in a way or another, the Chinese bid for at least regional mastery.

[1] “Chinese and American GDP forecasts”, The Economist, August 22, 2014, at the Internet address

[2] Ibidem.

[3] Office of the President of the Philippine, Philippine government eyes comprehensive strategic partnership with South Korea, December 13, 2014, at the Internet address

[4] Prashanth PARAMESWARAN, “Philippines, South Korea Eye Stronger Partnership Amid Chinese Protests”, The Diplomat, December 17, 2014, at the Internet address

[5] Ankit PANDA, “India and Russia Sign Agreements on Defense, Energy”, The Diplomat, December 12, 2014, at the Internet address

[6] Jin KAI, “The Worrying Trend of Diplomatic Balancing in Northeast Asia”, The Diplomat, December 15, 2014, at the Internet address

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