Washington: The extraordinary growth of Asian giants India and China in the past few decades has been mainly due to the 60 years of relative peace and stability in Asia, a top Pentagon official has said.
"This extraordinary growth that we`ve witnessed and the dynamism in the Asia-Pacific region, and that of China and India in particular, has been made possible by 60 years of
peace, stability and prosperity," said Michael Schiffer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for East Asia policy in his remarks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
"Yes, there have been some significant disruptions to that peace in the region during this period, but on balance, it has been a period of remarkable stability and prosperity, much of it embedded by the security and openness of the global commons and the attendant lattice of international laws, norms and institutions, with much of that traced back to the US presence in the region and our engagement with our allies and partners," he said.
He stressed on the need to maintain this peace in the continent that is home to almost half of the world`s population.
"Remarkable as that period of growth and transformation has been. However, history teaches us that without careful management during periods of power transition, and what we are witnessing in Asia today is a power transition on scale of any that we have seen in the world`s recent
history, often end in discord, uncertainty, instability or conflict. So although Asia`s transformation holds great promise, the future is far from certain," he said.
Schiffer said the rise of Asia is perhaps the salient and central geo-strategic fact of the 21st century.
By most measures the Asia-Pacific region is the most important and dynamic region in the world today and likely to become more so as this still century continues to unfold, he
"Today the Asia-Pacific region comprises over half the world`s population. Trade between the US and the Asia- Pacific economies is estimated at over USD 1 trillion annually. The region is home to 15 of the world`s 20 largest ports with nine of them located in China alone. And China has become the largest trading partner of Japan, India, Taiwan, Australia and South Korea, all allies or partners of the US," he said.
"Asia and the Asia-Pacific region is also home of five of the largest standing armies in the world, in India, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, North Korea and China. And
that doesn`t even include our own military force," the Pentagon official said.
As US Defence Secretary Robert Gates heads towards Beijing over the weekend, Schiffer said the principal task now is to continue to develop and nurture the norms, the institutions, the infrastructure and the architecture that have facilitated security in the region.
"Failure to do so could derail the region`s hard- earned progress and could, as has all too often happened in the past, lead to the type of zero-sum competitions that could undo much of the progress that we have seen in recent decades, an outcome, I would note, that is decidedly not in our interests, not in China`s interests, nor in the interests of the region as a whole," he observed.
China has an important role to play in promoting Asian-Pacific peace and prosperity in the 21st century, he said, adding that Beijing`s positive contribution would benefit the region.
"The US-China relationship has been premised from its very inception on a shared commitment to stability within the region and the international security environment."
Washington welcomes and encourages China`s active and positive contributions to the stability, resilience and growth of the regional and international system, he added.