With China’s growing power, Beijing continues making expansive and unreasonable territorial claims in the East China Sea, the South China Sea, and in outer space. China takes the position that the entire South China Sea belongs to them, which is news to the Phlippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan, all of whom have territorial claims there. The Chinese are also trying to stop lawful U.S. Military operations in the sea and making its periodic harassment of U.S. Naval vessels and expansive claims of maritime sovereignty. The South China Sea in particular is an area the U.S. Wants freedom of navigation, open access to the maritime commons, and respect for international law.
With China’s rising military presence in the region, how do you ask bellicose China to abide by the international rules of the road and generally be more transparent in its maritime actions? Well, that will only happen if China becomes a more law-respecting and open society. And America cannot call on China to behave responsibly while allowing Burma’s depravity, Vietnam’s abuses, and China’s own religious persecution, such as with Falun Gong, to go unmentioned.
It seems that China has no respect for international law as it grows more powerful. The Chinese government desires to change international rules written when the country was weak. However, we know that Beijing would respects power above all else if the U.S were to step in and deal with Asia-wide security issues.
President Obama’s “Strategic Reassurance” policy of his first year, in which Washington reassured Beijing that America would not contest its rise to great-power status and saying that China’s rise would be an exception – less disruptive than Germany or Japan. China smelled weakness and upped the ante declaring the South China Sea a “Core Interest” and defining it as China’s territorial waters.
Now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has commented that a peaceful resolution to the South China Sea territorial dispute is in America’s “national interest.” And Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ move to restore military ties with Indonesia, make clear that the Obama team understands that China’s rise will not be the historical exception. Their moves are to balance China’s growing power and step up engagement with allies and partners – all without abandoning America’s values.
Moreover, Washington is putting an end to China’s “divide-and-conquer” strategy in Southeast Asia. China has been keen to keep disputes with Southeast Asian nations bilatereal. It is much easier to bully and ajole other claimants to the sea’s many atolls, waterways, and natural resources individually. By themselves, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan cannot effectively stand up for their interests. Together with American backing, they can. America will embrace partners who share its goal of checking China’s power, but will not shy away from criticizing those who abuse human-rights.
In order to balance China’s rising military presence in the region and ensure Asia’s stability, two steps are suggested to be taken: 1.With the support from Congress and the American people regarding the costs, it has been recommended that the Pentagon upgrade its military defense in the Pacific to level with China. 2. To build a tighter network of allied cooperation in Asia, the U.S should establish an Asia Regional Partnership embassy in an allied capital – much like the one in Brussels with the European Union, and populate a new set of diplomatic institutions with cadres of diplomats and military officers who deal with Asia-wide security issues.
This new policy would ensure that China behave and respect international law, was suggested by Mr. Daniel Blumenthal, who served in the Department of Defense’s Office for International Security Affairs from 2002-2004, He is also a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C..
In Baltimore, this is Jeremy Ford for The SOH Network. Thank you for listening and tuning in to http://www.sohnetwork.com. Until next time… signing off.