US Policy on Pacific
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Obama in East Asian Summit
USA and East Asia Summit
Chinese Premier cornered
Now, after the recently concluded East Asian summit, it has become amply clear that USA is carving out its China containment plan. US took an aggressive stand on its role in East Asia. What is important, other nations also supported USA and forced China to concede to discussions in a multilateral forum on South China Sea. Earlier it was insisting on solving all disputes through bilateral approach. In other words, the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was simply cornered in the summit. Of course, Wen on returning to China gave a warning to ‘outsiders’ not to involve themselves in the South China dispute. By ‘outsider’, China means USA and India.
India brushes aside Chinese criticism
Wen confided Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the summit and questioned about India’s involvement of oil exploration in the South China Sea jointly with the government of Vietnam. Indian Prime Minister brushed aside the criticism and stated that India’s interest in the South China Sea was purely commercial. The Indian Prime Minister went one step ahead and asked the Chinese Prime Minister to settle all outstanding disputes according to international law.
China attacked India in 1962 and captured Indian Territory
This bold approach by India won applause from all countries present in the meeting. Gone are the days when India tamely fell at the feet of China and endorsed whatever it said. After the Chinese attack on India in 1962, India lost 32000 sq km of territory to China. It would have lost more and perhaps entire India would have fallen into China’s hands had the US President Kennedy not interfered. Since the 1962 attack, India had feared China on each and every count. India framed its foreign policies and statements carefully, not to antagonise China.
China irritates India, India irritates China
But now the situation is quite the opposite. When the Chinese dissident was presented Nobel Peace Prize last year, China asked all the countries not to attend the award giving function in Stockholm. India disobeyed and attended the function, much to the chagrin of China. Sino-Indian strategic rivalry has spread to one more zone namely South China Sea. Already Kashmir, including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh have been bones of contention between China and India. China grants stapled visas to Indians from Kashmir, indicating that Kashmir is a disputed area. China has been claiming Arunachal Pradesh as its own Territory.
Other nations happy at India’s involvement in South China Sea dispute
China’s neighbours like Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and even Japan are happy at the involvement of India in the South China Sea dispute. Nearly ten countries have been opposing China’s claim over the entire South China Sea. These nations claim that South China Sea belongs to all the countries whose shores are present in the sea. Many nations have been egging on India to involve itself in this dispute. India considered it right as China had been involving itself in disputed areas considered by India as its own like for example Kashmir.
It was under these circumstances that the United States announced its focus and more involvement in Asia. US President Obama described the decision as deliberate and strategic. Owing to the economic and military rise of China in Asia, the power of US is declining over the years. It is speculated that in about a decade, China will be the superpower, challenging militarily and economically the might of USA. In order to prevent this from happening and also to increase its influence in the region, US has conscientiously chosen to involve it in all matters including disputes in Asian region. Its Pacific policy is shaped by a need to challenge the might of China.
TPP aimed at China
It is not that the US is taking steps only now to involve itself more in Asia. Already, as long back as in 2005, the US promoted a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by Chile, Brunei, Singapore and New Zealand. More countries like Malaysia, Australia, Japan, Peru and Vietnam among others have expressed their willingness to join. China views TPP with hostility. If TPP grows powerful, it could force China to deal with it on an even keel just as it dealt with WTO and APEC.
Pakistan did not object to India’s involvement in South China Sea
On the military side, US has recently concluded a defence agreement with Australia to station 2500 troops. USA has many friends in Asia Pacific region like South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Philippines among others. China has only two friends in the region namely Pakistan and North Korea. Out of these two nations, China cannot count on any support from Pakistan as it is a key American ally in the war on terrorism. In fact, when China objected to Indian presence in the South China Sea, Pakistan did not condemn India. Pakistan did not even express its approval of the Chinese objection. North Korea is a lame duck and depends wholly on China for its very survival. China cannot expect any help from it.
US, a surprise visitor to the East Asia Summit
To be exact, nobody even expected US to attend the East Asian Summit. For many years, USA kept away from the summit, considering it as something unimportant. Had USA not attended the summit, China would have behaved like a dictator and forced its views on other countries. In fact, China came to the summit with a prepared agenda to warn all the countries not to involve in any activity in South China Sea without its permission. The presence of US and that too the fact that US President Obama himself chose to be present in the summit instead of sending his Secretary of State Hilary Clinton dismayed, angered and shocked China beyond words. But it made other nations happy.
US wants China to disintegrate like Soviet Union
USA was highly successful in waging cold war with the mighty Soviet Union for four decades from the fifties till the end of the eighties when the Soviet Union broke up. After the fall of the Berlin wall, US made sure to extend its domain of influence in Europe in all aspects. Now that the Soviet Union no longer exists and its new avatar Russia is a paper tiger, as it proved in the Libyan conflict, US has to necessarily turn its attention towards containing China both economically and militarily. US may like to go one step further and ensure that China also disintegrates like Soviet Union. One spark is enough to induce dissent and breakup of China. Already Chinese people have been suppressed and denied their freedom by the brutal communist government. All that is needed is that spark. It may come at any time and from any quarters.
Without India’s help, US cannot contain China
But US should understand one thing, if it has not understood it already. For containing China, India’s help is very much needed. No other side will come so openly against China, supporting USA. This is because China had not attacked directly any nation like Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan etc. It has only been threatening others with its speech and actions. But China had attacked India directly and is holding on to its territory. It is claiming more of India’s territory like Arunachal Pradesh. There is tension in the long McMahon line, the border between India and China. China provides military and nuclear assistance to India’s bitter foe Pakistan. All these factors go in favour of USA to seek India’s help for containing China. US should offer credible guarantees that in the event of another attack by China on India, it will stand by India’s side and offer all possible help. US may need Pakistan in its war on terror. But containing China is more important than the war on terror. Pakistan cannot offer US any assistance in containing China as it itself is China’s friend. US should build defence cooperation with India strongly and forge ties that clearly signal China that a war against India will be very costly to it.
South China Sea Dispute
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- China is Harassing Other Nations in South China Sea Dispute | Quazen
China is harassing other nations' vessels in South China Sea. China claims that the entire South China Sea belongs to it. It is opposed to American intervention in the dispute. But without American intervention, China would have already attacked and