How the United States Can Still Develop a Coherent China Policy

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 21, 2010

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A good start would entail listening to Dan Blumenthal, who points out that while China has had some success in getting the Obama Administration to back off from insisting on certain longstanding foreign policy positions vis-à-vis China, much of China’s newfound foreign policy belligerence stems from domestic challenges being faced by the Chinese leadership. Blumenthal’s conclusion concerning the state of play between the United States and China should be heartening to Americans, and those who wish the United States well. The question, of course, is whether the Administration possesses the skill and the will to carry out Blumenthal’s suggestions concerning the future of China policy:

Washington still has a strong hand to play. China is growing stronger, but, for all of its chest thumping, it pales in strength compared with the United States and its allies in Asia. And none of our Asian allies want a dominant China. Indeed, one of the untold stories in Asia is the region’s military modernization. Almost all of our allies are buying advanced tactical aircraft (mostly the F-35), maritime surveillance capabilities, and diesel submarines — to deal with a rising China. The atmosphere is ripe for us to begin creating an informal network of alliances operating more closely together, particularly since much of what our allies are buying is American equipment. Washington should start to build the institutions today that will allow the allies to train together on their fifth-generation aircraft, patrol the South China Seas, and hunt for submarines. How about announcing the creation of a fifth generation aircraft “center for excellence” in Singapore, where all allies can train?

The point is that there is still a chance to present China with a choice: act like a responsible power or face a great wall of resistance. The good news is that there are many Chinese who want the former.

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