Courtesy Reuters

The New Balance of Power in Asia and the Pacific

In the 1950s a balance or pattern of power grew up in Asia and the Pacific, the central feature of which was the conflict between the Sino-Soviet bloc and the American alliance system. It is obvious that this pattern has been disintegrating in the course of the last decade, and that in the 1970s it will be replaced by something quite new. What this new balance will be we cannot say with any assurance, but certain propositions may be tentatively advanced.

The new balance will rest primarily upon an equilibrium among three great powers-the United States, the Soviet Union and China-and the principal uncertainty is whether they will be joined by a fourth, Japan. Each of the three present great powers gains from the conflict between the other two (although only up to a point: it is unlikely that any of them wishes to see the others embroiled in a nuclear war). Each fears that the other two will combine against it. Russia and China express this fear of collusion in strident terms; while the United States does not voice its concern in any comparable way, it does not wish to see a restoration of Sino-Soviet solidarity.

In fact, the tensions on all three sides of this triangle seem likely to persist and to exclude an enduring and comprehensive combination of any two against the third for the foreseeable future. A Sino-American understanding has been made more likely by the evident willingness of the Nixon Administration to seek an improvement in relations with China, and the presumed interest of China in influencing United States policy against an understanding with Russia; moreover, the disengagement of the United States from mainland Southeast Asia will remove one important source of friction. But the intractable problem of Taiwan is sufficient by itself to prevent a general rapprochement for many years.

A Sino-Soviet understanding might be facilitated by changes of régime in Moscow, Peking or both, but the border dispute is likely to outlive particular

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