Speaking exclusively to Defence Connect, His Excellency Dr José Ramos-Horta, former president of Timor-Leste and Nobel Peace Prize recipient in 1996, said Asia poses the greatest threat to global peace and prosperity.
“Contrary to the overly optimistic view that we are dealing with a rising Asia and that power has shifted from the West, from Washington, to Asia, contrary to that I say, ‘I'm sorry, my view [is that] Asia is the most dangerous region of the world,” Dr Ramos-Horta said.
“In Europe, you have two nuclear powers, France and UK, and they are the closest of allies in Europe. They don't point their nuclear weapons at each other. In Asia, you have neighbours with nuclear weapons, cousins with nuclear weapons pointed at each other.”
The UN special representative listed tensions between India and Pakistan, the “lunacy” of North Korea and territorial disputes in the South China Sea as key concerns for the region.
He said the ageing population in many east Asian countries means that US hegemony from a militaristic and geopolitical point of view is assured for some time into the future.
“I tell the Chinese: ‘Even if you install a missile on every wheelchair in China – because 30 years from now you will have 300 million people on wheelchairs [in China] – you cannot fight the Americans’.”
Dr Ramos-Horta also called for greater Australian Defence Force presence in his country of Timor-Leste and the Asia-Pacific region.
To hear more from His Excellency Dr Jose Ramos-Horta stay tuned for our exclusive podcast.