Three mistakes will defeat US 'return to Asia' strategy

By Luo Yuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 16, 2011
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The United States has proclaimed its high-profile return to the Asia-Pacific region by expanding its strategic deployments with an apparent aim to suppress China. While peddling their vision for the region, US leaders make three critical mistakes.

PLA major-general Luo Yuan, executive vice president of the Chinese Strategic Culture Association [Xinhua]

PLA major-general Luo Yuan, executive vice president of the Chinese Strategic Culture Association [Xinhua]

1. China is not America's enemy

When George W. Bush took over the US presidency in 2001, he regarded China as potential major adversary. After September 11, 2011, America realized that Al-Qaeda terrorists, rather than China, were the most dangerous enemy of the United States. Sadly, America paid dearly for its miscalculation.

The emergence of China as a major power may offend the hegemonic consciousness of some Americans, but it will never threaten the lives of American people. The growing Chinese economy may grab some profits, but at the same time, it will provide more jobs, cheaper daily necessities and a profitable investment market for Americans. Also, China's developing military clout, which is only tasked to defend China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity, will pose no threat to the United States.

Therefore, there is no need for the US to worry about China as long as it does not inflict harm upon the Chinese people. As Henry Kissinger said, "Treating China as an enemy increases the likelihood that it will become one."

2. The Asia-Pacific region should not be a central part of US security strategy

The core interests of the United States lie in its national security. The U.S. can and should see the Asia-Pacific region as a hub for economic cooperation and development. However, with the threat of terrorism still looming, its security strategy should be focused on anti-terror efforts. The U.S. was quick to deploy forces to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. However, it left behind a lot of problems more troublesome than the conflicts themselves. Thus the U.S. is unlikely to get away from these regions very soon.

Compared with the terrorists, the Asia-Pacific region poses a much smaller threat to the United States. No country here serves as a breeding ground of terrorism or directly threatens American security. The US's interests in this region primarily concern the safety of sea lanes and American's allies, neither of which, however, is more important than the national security of the country itself.

Taking the above into consideration, the U.S. should rethink the main objectives of its security strategy.

3. Containment policies won't defeat China

America's "return to Asia" strategy could potentially ignite conflict at the wrong time, with the wrong enemy for the wrong reasons.

In the post-Cold War era, mutually beneficial cooperation has prevailed over containment and suppression. However, the U.S. is still using cold war techniques to fight an imaginary enemy.

The U.S. had adopted containment policies against China since the new republic was established in 1949, firstly by excluding it from membership of the United Nations and then the World Trade Organization. The U.S. still has an arms and high-tech embargo on China. However, these policies have been in vain, as China has grown into the world's second largest economy and a military superpower.

It is time for the U.S., as well as the other Asian countries, to give up the containment policies and carry out mutually beneficial cooperation with China. Otherwise these countries may slip down on China's list of potential partners once when China elbows its way to the top table.

U.S. risks repeat of the 9/11 tragedy

In the 20th century, America gave up a certain amount of control over the Asia-Pacific region due to its withdrawal following the Vietnam War. Now the U.S. faces similar pressure caused by the biggest economic crisis since the World War II, permanently high unemployment and the threat of terrorism at home and abroad. Under the circumstances, the U.S. should shift its attention from the South China Sea and the Asia-Pacific region and focus on protecting its own people from terrorism.

Since China doesn't harm America's interests, the US has no reason to suppress China. As U.S. shifts its military attention to the Asia-Pacific region, it risks its own national security. This negligence could one day result in another 9/11 tragedy.

In short, it is not America's enemies, but rather America's decisions, that will lead to its decline.

The author is a major-general in Chinese People's Liberation Army and executive vice president of the Chinese Strategic Culture Association.

This article was first published on and translated by Li Xiao.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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