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Pentagon's gunboat policy

15:40, August 11, 2010

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By Li Hong

Chinese people's high esteem for President Barrack Obama and his Democratic administration has been on the wane, starting from his selling high-tech weaponry to China's Taiwan in late 2009. The dislike is being accelerated by the saber-rattling of a nuclear-powered super aircraft carrier in waters near to China's shores.

Actually, China has been very cooperative and helpful in pushing back the global financial crisis and severe recession -- a product of American deregulation, and continuing to buy U.S. Treasuries to support crucial stimulus spending there.

Eight months ago, President Obama stated to the world that"the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations." But, the warmth of relationship is hardly tangible today.

Though seriously in debt, the US' military never runs out of money, and its smoking gunboat never decelerates and lowers its juggernaut nose. The jumbo carrier, USS George Washington, after staging a high-profile exercise with South Korea in the Sea of Japan and hosted a group of Vietnamese generals in the South China Sea, is said to present another war game with South Korea in the Yellow Sea, from where China's capital city is within F-18s' radius.

Beijing is certainly unhappy. A Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said the Beijing had repeatedly"expressed our clear and firm opposition" on any maneuvers in the Yellow Sea. And, a Chinese general warned that U.S. plans to bring George Washington to China's doorstep may provoke"economic retaliation". Some online commentators have recommended Beijing take low-profile moves to express China's displeasure, including a temporary halt to buy U.S. debts. Others speak of a tit-for-tat.

This country must not overreact. After all, the Pentagon is just showing off, or at most, projecting its military power and predominance, although Uncle Sam has become financially precarious in its foundation each passing day. It is odd that American economists have warned some of their cities are lighting less of their street lamps at night (to save dollars), but their state-of-the-art war ships are cruising day and night in three of the four oceans. In China, we will call it"bai-ja-zi" (prodigal).

Global affairs watchers have pointed out that behind the latest bellicose military postures, Washington clearly has a geopolitical agenda. Despite President Obama's earlier promise that"the United States does not seek to contain China", an arc of American"allies" circling China is what his administration tries to form and shadow this country. No wonder at last month's southeastern Asia security meeting in Hanoi, State Secretary Clinton extended her hand to former arch foe, Vietnam.

US' intention to plant seeds of distrust between China and its neighbors has swayed some. For instance, not long ago, an aging politician from ASEAN claimed that if China's rising military and economic power were not"balanced" by America, Uncle Sam may risk losing its global leadership. See? Quite a few in the region, clawing to the old order with the U.S. at the central, are just shocked and awed by China's rapid economic growth.

Vietnam joined the U.S. in harsh attacks on China on the settlement of South China Sea claims at the Hanoi meeting, where Clinton suggested an international mechanism to solve the issue, for the first time, hinting at direct U.S. involvement. Beijing is not alone in opposing it. Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo has told Washington to keep out:"It's ASEAN and China. Can I make myself clear? It's ASEAN and China. Is that clear enough?" he told reporters.

It will be a long time, I guess, before the U.S. does not pose its noses around the globe. Some are to hail the day's coming, while others will loath it.

But, China, with a history of 5,000 years and a culture of benevolence, could be resilient and tolerant in responding to the current U.S. military aggressiveness. It could just shrug off the ill-will from the Pentagon, and concentrate on China's own path of economic expansion, military modernization, and aligning with all the friendly countries worldwide.

The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

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About this column

Li Hong has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics.

He was graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida.


Dai MinJohn
Dai Min

John Milligan-Whyte and Dai Min, the executive producers and co-hosts of the Collaboration of Civilizations television series adapted by the eight books they wrote in the America-China Partnership Book Series published in English and Mandarin in 2009-2010 that created the "New School of America-China Relations." They founded the America-China Partnership Foundation and Forum in 2008 and the Center for American-China Partnership in 2005, which was recognized in 2009 as "the first American think tank to combine and integrate American and Chinese perspectives providing a complete answer for America and China's success in the 21st century."

Li HongmeiLi Hongmei

Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online.