America Requires Wisdom and Stamina – Not Warships (Huanqiu,
People’s Republic of China)
military shift of attention away from Europe toward the Asia Pacific, which is perceived
by most informed people who watch these events as an attempt to contain China’s
influence, how should China react? This editorial from China’s state-controlled Huanqui counsels Beijing leaders to remain
calm and not react ‘in kind’ to Washington’s decision to deploy additional
warships and troops to the region.
Defense Secretary Panetta with Vietnam Defense Minister General Phung Quang Thanh in Hanoi, June 4: What is Panetta doing meeting military leaders around the Asia Pacific? China thinks it knows - and is not pleased.
On June 2, at the 11th
Shangri-La Dialogue, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reiterated that U.S.
strategy is shifting eastward, and he announced the deployment of 60 percent of
U.S. warships to the Pacific. Although he denied the move was intended to
contain China, few in the world believe him [watch video below].
This “strategic shift eastward” is nothing new. And with the
rise of China, any country in the position of the United States would be expected
to take the same measures. China’s impact on the global political landscape is
making many powers uneasy – and this uneasiness is bound to translate into action,
resulting in added pressure on China.
Objectively speaking, the U.S.-China competition is among the
most civilized in history between a rising and a hegemonic power. China is exercising
restraint as it expands its sphere of influence. And while the United States is
maintaining its guard, it is not allowing open hostilities to break out. The challenge
now is for both sides to prevent worries about a worst-case scenario to dominate
As far as China is concerned, we need to counter America’s
new Asia deployment, but should not allow that to overwhelm bilateral relations.
The U.S. may deploy additional military forces to the Asia Pacific, but then
what? In the long run, as many Americans have stated, China will gain influence
over areas offshore and its deterrence of U.S. aircraft carriers will only
In addition, China should have enough confidence in its inevitable
rise not to feel overwhelmed because America is engaged in a strategic shift
toward the east. China's rise is so wide-ranging, how could the mobilization of
a few battleships possibly contain it? If that were the case, forecasting international
relations would be a far simpler matter.
China will be disadvantaged vis-à-vis the United States for
many years to come, and China’s capacity to create alliances will remain
greatly inferior America’s. Every step forward China takes will bring added
pressure from the United States. If we are left gasping for air by Washington’s
“petty maneuverings,” then we may as well begin following its dictates right
There is no need to challenge the United States head on, or
for war between the two powers to be inevitable. Reacting in kind to America’s military
deployment would be the least desirable way of dealing with it. China should
choose the approach that best facilitates its economic growth. The trend of
Sino-U.S. relations is that “you need me, I need you,” and things are moving in
favor of the weaker party.
There is no imminent threat of a military clash between
China and the United States, though both are concerned about the possibility.
But such worries shouldn't be interpreted as meaning that we are destined to
fight a war to prove we have a “backbone” or demonstrate “influence.”
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doesn’t mean China should permit unbridled U.S. deployments. China must patiently
and meticulously explore methods of preventing U.S. intervention, thereby boosting
the geopolitical and geo-economic costs America has to pay, and giving U.S. policy makers
pause about getting their fingers burned.
The chances that America will use military force to halt
China’s rise and prevent it from becoming the heart of Asia-Pacific development
is extremely small. But Washington will use campaigns of military pressure to
influence the choices other countries in the region make, and to trip up China.
If China fails to reach its full potential there will be a variety of reasons,
but containment by Washington will be one of the root causes.
China need not fight America with force, but with wisdom and
stamina. The size and volume of China is so large, there is little way to begin
to contain it. As the years pass and the world increasingly benefits from the
Chinese market, those benefits will redound to us.
The competition between China and the United States will not
be decided by which side has the most warships in the Pacific.
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