06 December 2009

A Message from Asia to the World

Lt. Jeremy D. Crestetto, U.S. Navy, A Message from Asia to the World,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings Vol. 135, No. 12 (December 2009).

U.S. and Japanese collaboration on ballistic-missile defense has firmly grabbed the attention of Beijing. What impact is it having on strategic relations in the Asia-Pacific region?

On 18 December 2007, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer Kongo launched a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) and destroyed a ballistic missile launched as part of a cooperative test with the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. This successful and highly publicized test proved to be a major technological and political step for Japan in its development of a sea-based ballistic-missile defense (BMD) system with the United States. Public statements issued by both the United States and Japan after the test proclaimed the system as crucial to maintaining peace and security in East Asia. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), however, given its role as Asia’s regional hegemon, has reason to contest such proclamations and has been closely watching the system’s development.

This high-profile BMD system raises many questions regarding strategic relations in the dynamic and complex Asia-Pacific region. Among them, how does China view this inherently defensive system in the larger context of the U.S.-Japan alliance and Tokyo’s pacifist constitution? And, against the backdrop of American global centrality and the rise of China, how will BMD affect Sino-U.S. relations? …