Containment unlikely in Asian geopolitics

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-4-23 23:53:17

Is it for containing China? This is a question that will be haunting the whole of East Asia during US President Obama's ongoing trip to this area. Tokyo and Manila hope it is, but the facts will prove it is only their wishful thinking.

Obama's four-country visit should have been done last October. But it was delayed because of the debt ceiling crisis and government shutdown. When voices about the US declining are rising dramatically, the top priority of Obama's trip is to reassure its Asian allies to keep their faith in Washington.

Washington keeps declaring that it doesn't pick sides in terms of the Sino-Japanese and Sino-Philippine territorial disputes. But it explicitly shows favor for Tokyo and Manila when frictions in these areas take place.

Washington tries to kill two birds with one stone by supporting its allies while avoiding irritating China, a delicate way to maintain the balance between business profits and political influence.

Obama putting off the October trip has already sent a signal that Asian allies must make way for US domestic affairs.

While in order to revive its declining economy, the US depends much more on China than these allies. Washington cannot bear a strategic confrontation of containment and counter-containment with China.

China's Asia policy keeps holding the strategic initiative with restraint. Washington and its allies' arrangements to contain China will probably end up in vain. They have no chips to bargain with China. In fact, both the US and its allies are calculating how to benefit from China's growth.

China's rise has become the biggest variable in the Asia-Pacific strategic framework. China shows to the world that it is committed to utilizing its power in a peaceful and restrained manner, and the US has also basically recognized a stronger China.

These two new developments are shaping a new Asia-Pacific order during China's rise. There will be a new balance in this area, and no countries are able to break it.

Obama's rebalance toward Asia is a rearrangement of the US presence in this area to maximize its interests. But the US is not powerful or ambitious enough to contain China in this area, or even strangle China before it rises to be a global power.

It is just an illusion for some Asian countries to contain China. In fact, there are many controversies concerning China's rise within the US-led alliance.

Japan and the Philippines want a tough stand against China, but are also worried that Asia might become the victim of a Cold War-like confrontation between the US and China.

Containing China is a plausible option for several Asian countries, but it will be proven impossible in the real Asian geopolitical game.

Obama should know that his actions and remarks during this trip will keep making headlines, but he had better not stir up a situation that is even beyond his own control.

Posted in: Editorial

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