China’s Insecurity Complex

Discussion in 'China' started by Ray, May 21, 2013.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    China’s Insecurity Complex

    This past August in Beijing, a senior colonel in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) told a U.S. think tank delegation that: ‘‘You have your Pearl Harbor and September 11th, we have our 1999.’’ This was a reference to the widely held view in China that the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during NATO’s air campaign over Serbia was an intentional warning to Beijing not to challenge U.S. dominance in international politics. However absurd on its face, the analogy exemplifies the pervasive perception that the United States is working to constrain China’s rise and to maintain U.S. hegemony in the region.Although China has long harbored concerns and conspiracy theories about U.S.
    efforts to weaken and encircle China, these perceptions are becoming increasingly dominant in Beijing.

    An editorial in the People’s Daily, groundzero for quasi-/authoritative commentary on U.S. foreign policy and the rebalancing, described U.S. strategy in Asia as having ‘‘the obvious feature of confrontation.’’

    Chinese public opinion, although difficult to poll with precision, also appears to reflect growing suspicion toward the United States. The Pew Research Center found that the percentage of Chinese respondents who view the U.S.—/China relationship as hostile has risen from eight percent in 2010 to 26 percent in 2012.

    These views are found not just among the public and in nationalist newspapers and micro-/blogs, but are widely shared among Chinese Government officials, academics, and think tank strategists. Wang Jisi, dean of Peking University’s School of International Studies and a leading expert on U.S.—/Chinarelations, has argued that in recent years the view throughout China has ‘‘deepened’’ that ‘‘the ultimate goal of the United States in world affairs is to maintain its hegemony and dominance and, as a result, Washington will attempt to prevent the emerging powers, in particular China, from achieving their goals and enhancing their stature.’’

    Like taking a Rorschach test, Chinese analysts perceive U.S. policies in Asia as a dizzying array of ink blots that combine to paint an ominous picture of U.S. intentions. Such activities include strengthening U.S. security ties with treaty allies, including Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines; deepening relations with emerging powers like Indonesia and Vietnam; increasing U.S. engagement with ASEAN-/centered institutions; announcing U.S. national interests in the South China Sea; supporting the Trans-/Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement; re-/engaging Burma; and deploying a rotational presence of U.S. Marines to Darwin, Australia. Taken together, leading Chinese thinkers view these actions as undermining China’s security and increasingly believe the unifying rationale for such a seemingly coordinated U.S. approach is to constrain
    China’s rise.

    Beyond purely emotive impressions of malevolent U.S. intentions, two related arguments /often mixed in imprecise ways /form the basis for Chinese
    accusations about how the United States’ renewed commitment to Asia is destabilizing to regional security. The first is that the United States is
    proactively fomenting conflict between China and other regional states (including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Japan) by ‘‘sensationalizing’’
    divisive issues, like the South China Sea, and by actively pressuring and encouraging countries to challenge China.

    According to this view, the United States instigates crises both to suppress China’s rise and to cause the U.S. military to be drawn or invited more deeply into the region’s security affairs. Upon Secretary Clinton’s September 2012 visit to Beijing, a commentary in China’s official Xinhua news agency called upon the United States to ‘‘stop its role as a sneaky troublemaker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings.’’

    The second, and more nuanced, Chinese assessment is that recent U.S. statements and activities in Asia have, even if unintentionally, emboldened regional states to believe they can challenge China while the United States has their back. Chinese analysts argue that ‘‘the reason why some countries are so unbridled may be related with the adjusted geo-/strategy of the United States.’’

    Much of China’s ire with U.S. rebalancing has been concentrated in the South China Sea, where six governments claim a variety of contested land
    features and surrounding waters in historical fishing grounds that are believed to be rich in hydrocarbons. China has repeatedly claimed ‘‘indisputable sovereignty’’ over the sea, demarcating its claims on official maps with a nine-/ dash line that stretches far from mainland China and snakes along the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Seeking to maintain maximum leverage over individual claimants, China has bristled at repeated statements by U.S. officials, beginning with Secretary Clinton’s intervention at the 2010 ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Hanoi, that articulate U.S.national interests in the South China Sea, including the freedom of navigation and respect for international law.

    Beijing has also objected to U.S. efforts to prevent and manage local crises by strengthening regional rules and institutions. After the release of a U.S. State Department press statement in August 2012 expressing concerns about particular Chinese actions in the South China Sea,
    the Communist Party’s top newspaper, the People’s Daily, told Washington to ‘‘shut up,’’ accusing the United States of ‘‘fanning flames’’ of division. China’s official Foreign Ministry response noted that ‘‘people cannot but question the true intention of the U.S. side.’’

    The most serious crisis in the South China Sea last year began in an April 2012 standoff between Beijing and Manila over Scarborough Reef, when the Philippines apprehended eight Chinese fishing vessels in disputed waters. China was furious that the Philippines had used a naval ship (rather than a maritime law enforcement vessel) to arrest the fishermen, and were further incensed that the ship was the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard frigate transferred by the United States in May 2011. In the ensuing months, as the crisis dragged on, Chinese diplomats doggedly accused the United States of both maintaining a biased position and encouraging the Philippines to take additional provocative actions. A scattershot of events during the crisis reinforced China’s concerns: these included the U.S.—/Philippines Balikatan
    military exercise in April, a port visit to Subic Bay in May by the nuclear-/ powered submarine USS North Carolina, and a visit to Washington by President Benigno Aquino in June.

    Chinese officials argued that these activities were stoking tensions and emboldening the Philippines to perpetuate the standoff. In a June interview with Thailand’s The Nation newspaper, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying expressed China’s concerns that, ‘‘against the backdrop of
    ongoing changes in the overall environment in the Asia—/Pacific region, these problems and differences seem to be hyped up, and even used to justify certain policies or actions.’’

    Amidst what it viewed as unrelenting pressure in the South China Sea, China saw disturbing parallels in the East China Sea with Japan. Strategists in Beijing perceived that the United States was again /by design /creating an additional source of instability on China’s doorstep. For decades, tensions have simmered between China and Japan over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, which offer access to key shipping lanes, fishing grounds, and potential oil reserves.

    These tensions began to boil over in April 2010 when Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara declared his goal of purchasing three of the islands from a private Japanese citizen. Many in Beijing saw the maneuverings of the United States behind this, partly because Governor Ishihara first announced his intentions in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. Subsequent events only fed Chinese suspicions. For instance, as the crisis escalated into the fall of 2012, U.S. officials reiterated Secretary Clinton’s October 2010 statement that the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security / which obliges the United States to defend Japan in case of hostilities /covers the Senkaku Islands.15 Furthermore, the Defense Department announced during Secretary Panetta’s trip to Tokyo in August 2012 that the United States would
    locate an additional X-/Band missile-/defense radar in southern Japan. China claims that this is an attempt at containment and could reduce the effectiveness of its nuclear deterrent.

    Few in Beijing accepted the explanation by U.S. officials that these actions were not aimed at China. Professor Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University’s School of International Studies in Beijing, noted that ‘‘the joint missile defense system objectively encourages Japan to keep an aggressive position in the Diaoyu Islands dispute, which sends China a very negative message. Japan would not have been so aggressive without the support and actions of the U.S.’’

    Similarly, former Under Secretary-/General of the United Nations and former Chinese ambassador to Japan, Chen Jian, said in an October 2012 speech in Hong Kong that many viewed the issue of the disputed islands ‘‘as a time bomb planted by the U.S. between China and Japan.’’

    A very incisive commentary on the insecurity of China.engined by the anger and frustrations of being impeded in their hegemonic and imperialist designs in Asia by the US wherein the smug walkover that they had expected has been spiked!

    I would go with the Chinese view that the US is attempting to encircle China and cage it from its wild adventurist pursuits in Asia. But China requires to introspect as to why the US is succeeding.

    To imagine, enemies of the US of recent vintage are siding the US to contain China, possibly because they feel that China is getting to and too big for its boot!

    The People Daily is wrong in its analysis that the U.S. strategy in Asia as having ‘‘the obvious feature of confrontation.’’

    Not at all.

    It is merely the reaction, duly assisted by others who are equally concerned, of the Chinese newfound belligerence in deciding that everything in Asia, be it land or sea, belongs to the Han!

    This excerpt from the main article, 'Rebalancing to Asia with an Insecure China', analyses each incident to indicate the ground realities.

    China wail is falling on deaf ears around the Pacific and Asia!
    arnabmit likes this.

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