'Return to Asia' aimed at tightening alliance network - Globaltimes.cn When it comes to China's surrounding environment, domestic scholars are pessimistic, the elite is lost, the public are bewildered, and the media is indignant. They all share the belief that the US strategic shift toward Asia is aimed at China and is an elaborate plan for the comprehensive strategic encirclement of China. They judge that the US strategic shift will heat up the disputes over South China Sea, corrode China's sovereignty, and finally lead to an overall deterioration of neighborhood security. This thinking has elements of truth, but is too simple and pessimistic. Although China is an important element for the US strategic shift, multiple factors are involved. As well as getting involved in East Asian integration, reshaping troop dispositions, and aiding domestic economic recovery, the US is keen to tighten bonds between its allies that have become loosened over recent years. Take Japan. In 2009, then Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama publicly challenged the US on issues such as the Okinawa military bases. In addition, Hatoyama publicly called for establishing the East Asian Community, a concept that contradicts the US strategic interests. Many US strategists have been aware that if the US continues ignoring the Asia-Pacific region, the most urgent challenge will be the crash of the US alliance system, instead of a rising China. As a result, part of the "return to Asia" strategy is to seize opportunities, make use of regional conflicts, and employ both kindness and severity in dealing with international affairs and reshaping the US alliance system. Many of the US military arrangements seem to be aimed at North Korea and China, but in fact are aimed at firm control over the US core allies. And if such actions attract attention from China or even force China to react in a mad rush, these results, killing two birds with one stone, will be perfect for the US. On the contrary, if China is clear-sighted and confident, the US won't reap strategic dividends. There remain fundamental conflicts between the US and its allies, as the last 50 years has shown. The US "return to Asia" policy has not formed a strategic encirclement against China yet. At the least, Sino-Russian relations and relations across the Taiwan Straits are at a historical peak. If these alone remain stable, China's regional security environment will be hard to fundamentally shake up. In addition, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has been enlarged, and trade among China, Japan, and South Korea continues to have huge potential, all of which aids stability and the prospects of peace. The US currently aims to enlarge its advantages in security and turn them into economic advantages. On the other hand, China is trying to turn economic advantages into political and security advantages. Either overestimating the US military power or underestimating China's economic strength is an irrational position. US officials and strategists have begun to reflect on the gains and losses of the US Asia-Pacific strategy over the past two years. They point to various mistakes, such as the risk of stirring up anti-US sentiments in China and provoking Sino-US confrontation and the danger of having US interests kidnapped by small countries. They also worry that the US has neglected the changes in West Asia and North Africa, resulting in the loss of previously critical security ties between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Turkey. This kind of reflection shows the plasticity and changeability in the US Asia-Pacific strategy. The US has also responded positively at a high-level to offers to build a new relationship. As long as China takes the initiative and makes the best use of the situation, it is entirely possible to create new opportunities and space for future development.