The momentum of US returning to Asia seems fierce. From strengthening military relations with allies to promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, the US attempts to press China are clear. A question must be answered: What should China do?
The guidance once given by Deng Xiaoping may be China's first choice: observe calmly and secure our position. China should decode the nature of the US encirclement and the strategic threats it will bring.
It is worth noting that the US does have the intention to encircle China, as seen from its current strategic deployment in the Asia-Pacific region.
However, the strategic influences of the US move have been exaggerated. In fact, it only provides some psychological comfort to certain regional countries, while it stands to gain economic benefits.
China has played a bigger role than the US in driving the economic development in Asia. Even if the Philippines and Australia fully join the US along with a few others, the forces intending to circle China still cannot have the desired impact. China is rather an important part of the Asia-Pacific region. It is impossible to fully encircle China today.
The US does not have the strength to encircle China now. What can it provide to the Asia-Pacific countries?
In the past, the US could attract these countries by its big domestic market, but now it is thinking how to use the Asia-Pacific market with elements such as the TPP.
The greatest concern of President Barack Obama now is his reelection, therefore, ensuring the economic recovery of the US is more important than anything else. For the US, returning to Asia must be profitable rather than costly.
Washington provides a sense of security to some Asia-Pacific countries and gets economic benefits in return. But these countries cannot be easily fooled.
From the strategic perspective, China could simply ignore the US encirclement. China has no fewer economic options than the US with which to influence the other Asian countries and China's domestic market is more attractive than that of the US.
The US shifted some of its soldiers from Okinawa to Darwin. The adjustment makes the US-Australia alliance tighter, but it cannot turn the Australia currently swaying between China and the US into a totally loyal partner of the US.
The US recently sold a warship to the Philippines and several F-16 jet fighter to Indonesia. The deals made it a fortune but did not change the military balance in the South China Sea.
China does not need to panic about the US return to Asia. Facing a weak economic recovery, the US can do nothing but make some strategic mobilization as self-consolation.
China will not confront the US strategically or militarily. At present, China has the upper hand in the Sino-US competition and the US return to Asia cannot change the situation.
What China should do now is to continue its steady and fast development.
A growing China will possibly change the choice of some countries and China's development will simplify many problems.