The Platform


Europe has been fighting a losing war in reasserting its foothold in the Indo-Pacific. China’s entrenched grip and intention to dictate the region’s security threatens the historical foundation of the West, in which reliance on the United States alone to contain China is increasingly overstretched.

Germany’s latest efforts to join the fray through its inaugural marathon 24-hour flight to Asia by its Eurofighter jets in joining Exercise Pitch Black, on top of its Bayern frigate’s seven-month deployment earlier this year, is intended to showcase several objectives.

Firstly, Germany is signaling to Beijing that it is ready to protect its economic interests in the region. Secondly, to warn Moscow that Berlin intends to gradually shift to a more assertive defensive posture. Thirdly, for the West to play a deeper role in the region outside of NATO. Finally, for the people of the region to see that they could potentially count on the West to support them in the unlikely scenario that tensions boil over with China.

The potential flight maneuver near Taiwan during the trip back for Germany’s jets will be seized upon by Beijing that the West is purposely worsening tensions. It risks further pushing Beijing into an already tight corner that will invite riskier mistakes and miscalculations.

For China, only an outright comprehensive victory over the West both in its geopolitical aspirations in the region and the world and in its soft power and cultural dominance will justify its 100-Year Marathon by 2049 and in redeeming its dented pride. The greater alignment and combined forces of the Western-led containment team will seek to ensure that the historically predominant, stable, and proven rules-based international order and norms will persevere against Beijing’s onslaughts.

A new, long, and potentially ugly mind and physical game has begun, where conventional and solitary firepower alone will not guarantee long-term success. Systemic trust, predominance in values and moral purpose, and prevailing guarantees of law and rules-based equality and transparency pillared on freedom and respect for rights are what is needed for a structural and systemic triumph. Based on historical terms, the West might just have both the will and combined capacity to ensure that they remain triumphant in the years ahead.

Collins Chong Yew Keat has been serving in University of Malaya for more than 9 years. His areas of focus include strategic and security studies, America’s foreign policy and power projection, regional conflicts and power parity analysis and has published various publications on numerous platforms including books and chapter articles. He is also a regular contributor in providing op-eds and analytical articles for both the local and international media on various contemporary global issues and regional affairs since 2007.