US should adjust Asia policy to meet fit changing times

14:11, August 02, 2011      

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear recently that the United States is "a resident power in Asia—not only a diplomatic or military power but a resident economic power."

The United States has never been away from Asia, and it has always been the most powerful economic and military presence in the region. The so-called "return to Asia" just means that the strategic focus of the United States that was once changed by its fight against terrorism will be shifted to Asia in the future.

Washington has tended to adjust its strategic focus in different periods according to the challenges that it faced. Nevertheless, two principles in its foreign strategy have remained unchanged. First, the foreign strategy of the United States is always based on domestic politics.

Currently, boosting economic growth and reducing unemployment top the political agenda of Washington. As Asia is the world’s most dynamic region with the greatest development potential, shaping the links of the United States with Asia is to some extent to shape the future of its economy. Second, building and consolidating a U.S.-dominated situation is always the strategic goal sought by Washington.

The development of Asia has now reached a crucial time characterized by rapid economic ascension and sharp changes in regional political, economic and security structure. Some areas are breaking through the old mechanism and brewing new mechanisms. Some areas with no mechanism are also attempting to establish a mechanism.

Those free trade areas that have been established are facing the problem of supporting a political and security mechanism and will be unceasingly integrated in the future. Various interests interweave a complex situation, and every country hopes to occupy an advantageous position in the future pattern. In this context, the United States takes consolidating its leading position as a long-term policy among the multiple considerations of "return to Asia" to ensure its national interests.

Washington indeed understands that it is impossible for the United States to continue to enjoy hegemony like it always has in the future mechanism. It must share more interests with Asian countries. The United States wants to make sure that its original interests will not be damaged as far as possible, which has its own logic. However, the problem is some original interests were obtained through hegemony.

There will be an intense game between the United States and Asian countries, especially between emerging market countries. There will also be a heated contest between U.S. domestic politics and various interest groups. For example, the massive profit-driven U.S. military industrial group will push Washington to use hegemony to intensify regional conflicts in order to sell more weapons.

The United States is the creator and defender of the existing Asia-Pacific order. The regional stability will be directly affected by how the United States will handle its relations with China, by whether it can accept China’s rising role in the region, and by how other countries in the region will use the United States as a counterweight to China. However, the most important factor is whether the United States can refrain from its desire for hegemony.

There have been many far-sighted strategists in the United States. American historian Paul Kennedy had long warned of the ruin of the United States if it is driven by over-expansion abroad and profligacy at home. Former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski predicted that the global shift in power distribution toward East Asia will be one of the biggest challenges facing the United States. The biggest problem of Washington is that it lacks the courage to translate its clear understating of the world situation into policy adjustments in the real world.

By Ding Gang from People's Daily, translated by People's Daily Online

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