US China containment strategy recently wrapped by Washington policy makers into the so-called US pivot to Asia, this year has become a decisive factor defining the political landscape in the Asia Pacific.
Up till now it seems that China is emerging as the likely winner. Earlier this month the International Monetary Fund said China is overcoming the US as the biggest economy in the world.
US worst forecasts are coming true. That makes Washington nervous and prone to using less diplomacy and more primitive pressure on Beijing.
In a strong-worded statement posted on its website late on Sunday, the Chinese ministry of Commerce indicated that Beijing is unhappy with the US spending bill passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday.
"China expresses its dissatisfaction and strong opposition," Ministry of Commerce spokesman Sun Jiwen said “The clauses [of the Bill] "discriminate against Chinese companies, violate the principles of fair trade and send the wrong signal. … China urges the United States to take substantive measures and correct its erroneous practices to create a good environment for the healthy development of China-U.S. economic and trade relations."
Days earlier, Friday, China expressed its regret over the failure of US Congress to pass reforms to give emerging markets greater say at the International Monetary Fund. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that passing the reforms concerned the "reputation, electiveness and legality" of the IMF. "China will continue to urge the U.S. Congress to approve it," Hong told the press….
Says Gleb Ivashentsov, former Russian Ambassador to South Korea and Myanmar:
The American-Chinese relationship is very indicative of the present developments in the Asian-Pacific area. They determine to much extent the processes here. There are certain observers who try to make a parallel between the Soviet-American confrontation of the last years with the present US-China confrontation.
But here I would like to stress one major difference between those two confrontations. If you take the Soviet-American confrontation, it was mostly the ideological one, because, despite the short periods of détente, both sides were sure that sooner or later some final and decisive fight will take place between them.
The Soviet side stood for the position that the present age is the age of replacement of the world capitalist system with the new communist society and so on. The Americans were sure that the evil empire of the Soviet Union will be sooner or later ruined.
But the American-Chinese confrontation is very much different. While the Soviet Union stood for the destruction of the world capitalist system, the Soviet economy was more or less autonomous. The Soviet Union didn’t buy properties abroad, it didn’t invest money into the industries or natural resources in Asia or Africa.
While China is very much interested to invest in the capitalist enterprises in Asia, Africa and in the US as well, they are not interested in the destruction of the world capitalist system. They are interested in adapting that system to their needs and it is the most dangerous for the US, because the Chinese are fighting them on their own ground – in the economic ground.
At present the US is depending on China to a much more extent, than on any of its allies. If you take the economy, it is more than $1 trillion that the US owes to China. And if you look at the balance of trade, the Chinese surplus is equal to $100 billion every year. So, the US is very much dependent on China. Therefore, they want to confront that Chinese challenge. And this is the reason for that famous pivot to Asia which President Obama announced in 2011.
But the problem is that the US couldn’t offer anything new in confronting this Chinese challenge. They didn’t look for any economic ways of fighting the Chinese, they actually repeated all those old methods of the 1950s and 1960s. They made their main stress on a military confrontation. Therefore, we can see that renewal of old military alliances of the Cold War. In the eastern Asia, they attempt to draw in the new allies into these old Cold War alliances and so on.
And the problem is that actually there is a dilemma now for all those members of the East Asian society – whom to join, to be on the Chinese side or to be on the US’s side. And it is quite a difficult dilemma for most of them, because for peace and security in the Asia-Pacific it is important that there is no acute confrontation. Therefore, everyone is opposing joining any of the sides of this Chinese-American confrontation. But now we can see that the trend of confrontation in the East Asia is developing more and more.
It is very interesting to look at the large Chinese diasporas – the Huáqiáo – who are so numerous and, as far as I understand, still loyal to the country of their origin – to China. With that factor in mind, countries with large Chinese diasporas could hardly afford getting involved into direct military confrontation with China?
Gleb Ivashentsov: Surely, the Huáqiáo are more loyal to China. I think here we can trace some kind of a new trend in the whole of Asia. You see, the influence of the Asian Chinese civilization is very strong in the East Asia, because if you take, say, the Japanese culture or if you take the Korean culture, or if you take the Vietnamese culture – all of them, too much extent, have been influenced by the Chinese civilization, and kind of a greater China is forming up now, involving not just the People’s Republic of China, but Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Taiwan, where we have ethnic Chinese population. In Singapore there is a very big influence of the Chinese ethnic Chinese. And Taiwan is actually China itself.
Of course, when we look at the economic processes there, we can understand that most of those ethnic Chinese businessmen who are based in other countries of Asia, they are also very much interested in promoting the interests of China in that Chinese-American confrontation.
And how about the Huáqiáo who live in the US?
Gleb Ivashentsov: I do not have much information about the feelings of those Huáqiáo who stay in the US. But if we look at most of the political issues which divide certain Asian powers, we can see that actually on all the issues ethnic Chinese sympathize the People’s Republic of China, even if you take those territorial disputes in the South China Sea, or those disputes with Japan over the Sinkaku Islands. Taiwan speaks from the same position as the People’s Republic of China. China is China, irrespective of the differences in administration in Beijing and, say, Taipei.
By the way, talking of the recent moves by the US regarding Taiwan, when they approved the warships sale to Taiwan, this is an old way of dealing with the problem. And now, given all those factors which you’ve been telling us, doesn’t it look like a self-destructive policy for the US, in a way?
Gleb Ivashentsov: You see, the US is very much afraid of China gaining more strength. And if we look at China-Taiwan relationship of the later years, we can see that there is much sympathy among the Taiwanese political elites to the continental China. We can see the development of economic ties. There are over 1 million workers from the continental China who are working at the Taiwanese factories. There are up to 100 flights between China and Taiwan.
And that principle of “one country, two systems” which has been approved to Hong Kong and Macau, it could have been approved to Taiwan also. And we can see that some leaders, like the present President of Taiwan, they are in favor of getting closer to China. The Americans do not like that tendency and, therefore, they try to instigate more and more anti-Beijing feelings in Taiwan.
And if we look at the Sunflower Revolution last spring in Taiwan, it was very much against that trend of coming closer to China. The same we can see in Hong Kong, because all that Umbrella Revolution too much extent was instigated by certain American forces.
Now the Chinese economy has become number one and the US’s has become number two. So, could that actually bring the American politicians back to their senses? And could they somehow reverse that antagonizing trend they are involved in now? Could they rethink it and could they come to understand that, perhaps, peace with China will be more beneficial for the US too? And in that case, would that find a corresponding response in Beijing?
Gleb Ivashentsov: You see, generally, if we speak of Beijing, the Chinese leadership is very much interested in having positive relationship with the US. They have kind of a cooperative competition, as they call it, because they are very much interested in preserving the economic interaction with the US. They are also dependent on the US. But the problem is that there are certain forces in the US, especially those which are called the neoconservatives, which will never accept being number two in anything, be it a competition in baseball or in the economic matters.
Therefore, I think the confrontation will be there and I think all the countries should take efforts to make that confrontation not threatening to their interests, because even for us in Russia it is important to be nonaligned in that matter. We should work for a better understanding and more interaction of all those involved in that confrontation.
Like you are saying, the region needs to work to prevent another war. But when those in Washington are cornered, how much are they prone to overreacting militarily?
Gleb Ivashentsov: I think we’ll find more sober people to influence the situation, than those who take an irresponsible stance….