Strategy coordination between US, China good for region

By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/20 23:53:39

With China's rising influence and a new US administration, Singapore's Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen urged the two world powers to spell out their overarching foreign policy objectives toward Asia, which will give regional countries "the assurance of clear, common and acceptable rules around which countries can evolve a new order." The speech, which came from a panel discussion at the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday, reflects the deep concerns over a potential China-US confrontation in Asia.

As an emerging power, China has been viewed by the US, which enjoys decades-long hegemony, as an uncertain factor and a strategic rival. Washington has long adopted a strategy of both engagement and containment toward China. But the more powerful China becomes and the faster China develops, the more this US strategy  will tilt toward containment.

The US has never considered giving up its dominant role in Asia. A crucial component of the US containment strategy against China is to maneuver regional countries on issues such as the South China Sea disputes. Fearful of a Sinocentric order, regional countries hope the US can play a balancing role against China, but they often find themselves walking the narrow line between the two sides by aligning the US on security while depending on China on economic matters.

Doug Bandow, a special assistant to former US President Ronald Reagan, wrote in the National Interest that maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific will not be advanced by pushing nations to choose sides.

Take Southeast Asia as an example. A cruel fact, as some regional observers contend, is that a China-US confrontation, such as a trade war, could put regional countries in the firing line, because China and the US are inextricably locked in the region's trade system. Regional countries do not want to antagonize either China or the US and jeopardize their own interests.

No country is ready for a change in Asian leadership or sharing it, including China. At this time, it is key that stakeholders, especially China and the US, coordinate and articulate their policy toward Asia.

More importantly, the US should abandon its hostile containment or counterbalancing strategy toward China. The US is still the dominant player in Asia. A better option for Washington is to adjust its mindset and prepare for leadership-sharing. Meanwhile, it should consider participating in China-proposed plans, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the "One Belt, One Road" Initiative, which aim to facilitate the region's welfare.

Asian countries will be assured and regional development guaranteed when the world's top two powers can properly coordinate their strategies.

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