US should draw lessons from arms race

08:18, June 08, 2011      

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently said at the Shangri-La Dialogue that the defense budget pressure and the two protracted and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would not stop the United States from honoring its commitments to its allies in Asia. Obviously, Gates made the statement because some of its allies started to doubt its determination to "return to Asia."

The United States has deployed significant military forces in the Asia-Pacific region since the end of World War II. Although its economy has not fully recovered from the recession, there is no doubt that it will maintain a leading position in the military structure of the Asia-Pacific region for a very long time. It should adopt a new mindset and make wise use of its soft and hard power, in order to avoid the same old mistakes it made when seeking global hegemony.

Today's Asia is no longer the old weak Asia divided by the Cold War. Asian countries are developing by leaps and bounds and are strengthening cooperation with each other. The emerging market economies in Asia have played a major role in saving the world from the global financial crisis. They have become the engine for world economic growth, and changed Asia's role in the international arena.

Asia is gaining advantages. The U.S. policy toward Asia will depend more on the development situation of Asia in the future, unlike in the past when the policy was mainly based on the U.S. global strategy. That means that the United States will need to engage in Asian affairs in a way that Asian countries like. In the past, it was the United States that "shaped" Asia's development strategies, but in the future, it will be Asia that "shapes" U.S. regional strategies.

The development of the United States will require an Asia with a more and more accelerated development speed, and what an Asia with an accelerating development speed needs is a United States which can promote the peaceful development of Asia, make contributions to Asia and create more mutual benefits and win-win opportunities for Asia, not an United States which draws some counties to its side to confront other countries.

If the United States wants to stand steadily on Asia in the future, it must learn how to get along with China. An outstanding feature of the development of Asia in the 21st century is the peaceful development of China. China has become an important driving force in the development of the Asia-Pacific region, and its development has created unprecedented mutual benefits and win-win opportunities for Asian countries.

China has already become an extremely important country in Asia, and the United States will make a strategic mistake if it still treats China in the old ways. The United States must attach great importance to China's core interests and carefully deal with the issues surrounding them. Any action that hurts China's core interests will not only affect China-U.S. relations and damage the peace and stability of Asia, but also cause great harm to the precious common development situation of Asia.

The greatest challenge that the United States will face in Asia in future is not that some countries will want them to leave Asia, but how they participate in the cooperation and development of Asia. Unless the United States can create more opportunities for Asia's development and establish new security systems with Asian countries, it will not be able to continue its post-World War II influence in the Asia-Pacific region relying only on its military strength.

Recently, a senior U.S. official warned that China should learn something from the Soviet Union, which broke down economically during its arms race with the United States. However, since China will never seek hegemony, it is the United States that needs to learn something from that period of history.

The author is People's Daily senior desk editor Ding Gang and the article is translated by People's Daily Online.
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