The latest East Asia Summit will be held on November 19 in Bali, Indonesia. Taking it to signify its return to Asia-Pacific, the US seeks to turn the Summit into a forum concerning the South China Sea dispute. China has showed strong opposition to this move.
Coupled with strengthened US-Australia and US-Philippines military alliances, this move is only a part of US new Asia-Pacific strategy. These acts bring great pressure to China and it is now expected that China will take some countermeasures.
The US is carrying out smart power diplomacy that takes China as its target in Asia. Stopping it is not realistic, but it is equally unrealistic to expect China to stand idly by and indulge Asian countries as they join the US alliance to guard against China one by one. Confronted with such frictions, which has the most resources and means at its disposal? Is an all-out confrontation possible? These should be the real concerns.
A prominent change is that the US is intensifying action in the Asia-Pacific region and is encouraging China's neighboring countries to challenge China. This is a new application of soft power.
If an "anti-China alliance" is really built in Asia, the US should provide more economic benefits to its followers. It should convince those countries that joining the US is more profitable. Only providing verbal support for sovereignty issues in disputed waters and signing agreements to provide security protection is far from enough.
A new impetus for economic growth is absent from the stagnant US economy. Its strategic demand to contain China conflicts with the realistic view of using China to stimulate economic recovery.
The strategic nature of competition between China and the US in the Asia-Pacific will be murky for the time being. However, China has gained more stakes when dealing with the US. It is hard to say whether the US holds more advantages in China's neighboring area. The potential for economic cooperation between China and its neighboring countries is great. China should learn to use this to protect its political interests. Any country which chooses to be a pawn in the US chess game will lose the opportunity to benefit from China's economy. This will surely make US protection less attractive.
Naval disputes are only a small part of East Asian affairs. The US and other countries seek to defend private interests by taking advantage of them. As long as China increases its input, it will make countries either pay the price for their decision or make them back the doctrine of solving maritime disputes through cooperation.
East Asian affairs should be handled under the coordination of relevant countries. No one dominant force is wanted. China has more resources to oppose the US ambition of dominating the region than US has to fulfill it. As long as China is patient, there will no room for those who choose to depend economically on China while looking to the US to guarantee their security.