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China "Pivots" West around the Middle East, as America "Pivots" West around the Pacific

Updated on October 2, 2012

The New Mongol Horde

Partners or Invaders?
Partners or Invaders? | Source
Gunboat diplomacy in the Pacific.
Gunboat diplomacy in the Pacific. | Source

Global Strategies behind the "Pivots"

The case for America's strategic "Pivot" to Asia; by the application of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is well known. Asia is a dynamic emerging market that offers growth opportunities for American business. As the developed economies in the West mature and work through their debt burdens and welfare infrastructure legacies, Asia offers a beacon of hope for economic growth.

Within Asia, smaller nations with traditional economic and political links to America have welcomed the "Pivot"; in so far as it gives them support and protection against the dominance of China. Smaller Asian nations see the "Pivot" as a balance of power issue; between America and the emerging superpower of China.

China has responded to this new dynamic with a strategy that serves three objectives.

Firstly, China wishes to maintain peace and harmony on its own doorstep; so that it can continue to grow and dominate the region. In order to do this, it has pursued a strategy to deny American access to key strategic locations in the Pacific.

Secondly, China wishes to keep America occupied in legacy relationships; so that it is precluded from "Pivoting" to Asia.

Thirdly, China wishes to maintain and expand strategic access to resource markets and consumer markets globally; to compete with America.

The corollary of this strategy can be found in the Middle East. China supports Iran and Syria, to the consternation of America. America is not being denied access to Asia by Chinese policy; however it is being preoccupied with a legacy relationship. In addition, China is gaining access to Iranian Crude Oil; at favourable terms of trade because of the current embargo on Iran.In addition, China has an export market; once again on privilged terms of trade due to the embargo.

There are signs however that the Chinese strategy may have some shortcomings. The history of the Middle East has witnessed the destruction of Islamic culture by both the Crusaders and the Mongols. Iranians understand that they are being used as a strategic policy tool by the Chinese; and an increasing number of them feel exploited by the terms of trade with China. The battle for the hearts and minds of average Iranians will be fought over relative perceptions of the "invaders" from the Occident and the Orient.


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