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Stability and progress require unity
Publication Date : 25-06-2012
The US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta recently announced that the United States will accelerate its strategic shift eastward, saying 60 per cent of US warships will be deployed to the Asia-Pacific region before 2020. He stressed that such a move is not to contain China.
But despite Panetta denying that the United States is trying to contain China, a series of activities taken by the US over the past year, from its increased military presence in the Asia-Pacific region to its frequent joint military exercises with its allies that posited China as the enemy, mean it will be difficult to convince people that Washington is not targeting China.
Plagued by a lacklustre economic recovery, a lingering debt crisis and a soaring unemployment rate, the US should focus on concentrating its financial resources on how to help extricate the world and itself from the economic slowdown, promote economic development, expand employment and improve people's welfare.
However, Washington has chosen instead to squander taxpayers' money in pursuing an unrestricted military expansion, adding more pressure to its depressed economy.
For a long time the US has maintained a level of military spending that is far beyond its economic capacity. Such a situation, if not changed, will inevitably lead to the depletion of its domestic resources and hamper its development. The US' colossal military spending also fails to make deserved contributions to world peace and development.
As a matter of fact, the US still has a Cold War mentality, even after the collapse of the US-Soviet bipolar world pattern. Having long viewed China as the biggest challenger to its established hegemony, the US continually tries to intervene in China's internal affairs and seeks to strain ties between China and neighbouring countries.
But as a pragmatic country, the US is willing to extend an olive branch to China when it needs China's help, such as assistance to resolve its debt crisis and the Iran nuclear issue or in its fight against terrorism. However, some resolute measures will be taken to contain China if these situations evolve to Washington's advantage.
The US depressed economy will be a drag on its strategic shift eastward. The exposure of various economic malpractices in the US-led developed world in the context of the global financial crisis has already given rise to some serious social problems in affected countries.
At a time when the struggling global economic recovery needs some big countries to drive it forward, the US has chosen to intervene in the internal affairs of some Middle Eastern and North African countries under the guise of freedom, democracy and human rights, creating new areas of instability and turbulence in the world.
And despite it being an old friend of Europe, the US has not extended the due support to crisis-stricken European countries to help them pull out of economic predicament resulting from the sovereign debt crisis. Instead, Washington chose to accelerate its strategic shift to Asia, with a dogged attempt to pursue the Cold War style confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region, deepening European countries' feeling of being deserted by an old friend.
The accelerated Asia-bound strategic shift also contradicts the US' unveiled global contraction strategy. Joint efforts are needed to address the ongoing turbulence in the Middle East and North Africa, the worsening sovereign debt crisis in Europe, as well as the rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somali. In particular, at a time when terrorism still remains a top threat to global security, the US should work with other countries to get rid of this tumour.
Compared with the rest of world, the Asia-Pacific region has enjoyed comparatively more stability. The majority of Asian countries adhere to peaceful means to handle regional affairs. Despite occasional frictions and disputes, most Asian countries expect to resolve their differences through diplomatic means without intervention from the outside world.
China remains an important economic engine in the Asia-Pacific region and most countries in the region still hope to boost their economic development through increased economic exchanges and cooperation with China, although some do hold misgivings about a rising China.
The excessive infiltration of outside forces, including the US, into Asia-Pacific affairs will only make regional situations more complicated. Some Asia-Pacific countries have also realised this possibility and thus refused to take sides between China and the US, demonstrating their worries about Washington's intention of inciting rivalry in the region. Stability and progress in Asia-Pacific region hinge on unity among regional countries, and any attempts to sow discord are ultimately doomed to failure.
China will continue to adopt a friendly and good-neighbourly foreign policy and is willing to develop a close relationship with all countries in the Asia-Pacific region. It is also willing to work with other countries to strengthen pragmatic cooperation on a mutually beneficial and win-win footing to push forward the construction of free trade areas with them.
Besides, China also hopes to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region on a wider range of issues to consolidate the traditional friendship with them, and reduce mutual strategic misgivings and enhance mutual trust.
The author is a senior captain and director of Naval Research Institute of the People's Liberation Army.