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'Strategic anxiety' leads US diplomacy astray in Asia-Pacific

(People's Daily Online)

07:59, July 23, 2012

The United States has been active in the Asia-Pacific region in recent years. It has claimed that the Diaoyu Islands fall within the scope of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, and has taken advantage of the territorial disputes between China and certain member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to step up involvement in the South China Sea issue. In addition, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has frequently visited China’s neighboring countries. These diplomatic moves are clearly directed at China.

However, the United States must be aware that such diplomatic moves driven by linear thinking tend to create more losses than gains.

First of all, the containment of China is likely to destroy the legal foundation of the existing power system in East Asia, which will cause endless problems.

In order to contain China and to a lesser extent Russia as well as act as a so-called offshore balancer, certain U.S. politicians have been deliberately supporting Japan, and even pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for Japan in the Diaoyu Islands dispute and other issues. Their intentional burial of the Yalta system may destroy the legal foundation of the existing power system in East Asia, and turn many resolved historical problems into new disputes, which will damage the interests of China, Russia, and also the United States itself.

Secondly, the United States has diplomatic ambitions beyond its capacity, and may suffer another major setback.

Even in its heyday, the United States failed in all major military operations in the Asia-Pacific region such as the Korean War and Vietnam War. The main reason is that the United States lost moral support and failed to understand the changing balance of power in the region.

From a geopolitical perspective, the military force delivered is inversely proportional to the distance of delivery, and may become a spent force when the limit is reached.

Just as the Soviet deployment of missiles in Cuba greatly angered the United States, China should receive due respect from the United States for its interests and concerns in the Asia-Pacific region. However, the United States has repeatedly challenged China’s bottom line in issues concerning its core interests such as the Diaoyu Islands dispute and South China Sea issue, which is counterproductive and dangerous.

Furthermore, the United States will only suffer losses if it is dragged into disputes in the Asia-Pacific region which is facing a complex and delicate situation. Historically, many major powers were led by the nose by small countries due to their arrogance and ideological bias, and finally received more losses than gains.

Hilary Clinton, who has been running around to contain China, can be easily associated with her predecessor John Foster Dulles. Both of them made great efforts to promote the U.S. national interests, but their actions were often counterproductive. In fact, what the United States needs the most is not the aggressive containment of China, but a calm and serious strategic reflection.

Read the Chinese version: “战略焦虑”使美国亚太外交陷歧途
source: People's Daily Overseas Edition , author: Tian Wenlin

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