Obama's Asia trip: a series of unfortunate events


DFI Technocrat
Oct 10, 2009
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Obama's Asia trip: a series of unfortunate events
Wed, 11/18/2009 - 2:48pm

By Daniel Blumenthal

Before President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao released their joint statement, Obama's Asia trip was underwhelming. But after the statement, Obama's foray into Asia went from empty to harmful.

Before Obama arrived in China, the trip's policy successes were minimal at best. He showed up to a major trade forum, APEC, with no trade policy. If, as Evan Feigenbaum has said, the "business of Asia is business," without a trade policy Obama is putting America out of business in the world's most economically dynamic region. And then he was stiffed by Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama's outright rejection of the American proposal for a high-level dialogue to resolve basing issues on Okinawa. Not exactly a sterling performance by the new team.

But then came the joint statement after talks with President Hu. Two items in the statement struck me: one about Taiwan, the other in regard to India.

On Taiwan, the statement says:

The two countries reiterated that the fundamental principle of respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity is at the core of the three U.S.-China joint communiqués which guide U.S.-China relations. Neither side supports any attempts by any force to undermine this principle. The two sides agreed that respecting each other's core interests is extremely important to ensure steady progress in U.S.-China relations.
The three communiqués do indeed mention respect for territorial integrity. But it is highly arguable that "respect for ... sovereignty and territorial integrity" represent the "core" of the understandings that led to Sino-American rapprochement. The Taiwan issue was treated more delicately by earlier American statesmen. Their basic idea was that we would acknowledge, without accepting, the position that Taiwan is part of China. We would continue strong, unofficial diplomatic ties with the island and we would provide for its security through the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). We thus found a way to normalize relations with China without letting China have its way with Taiwan. Both sides of the Strait have prospered since the U.S. rapprochement with China and the signing into law of the TRA and relations have been more or less peaceful.

Now consider the situation across the Strait today. China has built a military capable of destroying the island if America does not assist Taiwan. Though obligated by law, the Obama administration has not sold a single weapon system to Taiwan. There is in fact no U.S.-Taiwan agenda under the Obama administration. It is even more dangerous, then, to stress the parts of the Sino-American normalization documents that most appeal to China. Of course China wants us to reiterate that our respect for "territorial integrity" and "sovereignty" is at the core of the three communiqués. Beijing wants us to accept its argument that Taiwan is part of China and that we should respect their sovereignty over the island. Obama has thus far done so through deed. With the joint statement he comes closer to officially accepting the Chinese claim of sovereignty.

On India, the joint statement says:

The two sides welcomed all efforts conducive to peace, stability and development in South Asia. They support the efforts of Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight terrorism, maintain domestic stability and achieve sustainable economic and social development, and support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan. The two sides are ready to strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace, stability and development in that region.
Here, President Obama broke new ground in ways harmful to both American and Indian interests. India and Japan are the two countries within Asia that can check China's desired dominance. For now, China has less to worry about with Japan as the Hatayoma government sorts through its foreign policies. But India is a different matter. It stood firm against China's pressure when the Dalai Lama visited Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian territory claimed by China. Delhi was sending two messages. First, do not interfere in India's internal affairs; the Dalai Lama is free to visit anywhere in India. Second, Arunachal Pradesh is India's territory. China had been putting military pressure on the border region but the Indians did not back down. Delhi is also standing firm in its maritime competition with China in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Navy will not allow China to build a sphere of influence in that maritime region.

Beijing's India strategy is to tie it down in South Asia to stop it from breaking out as a major power. The strategy has three basic pillars. First, Beijing has supported Pakistan's nuclear and conventional military programs. Second, China wants an acknowledged sphere of influence in South Asia. And third, Beijing wants to resurrect the so called "hyphenated" approach to India. It thus needs the United States to again think of India as part of an India-Pakistan problem, rather than as an emerging great power.

During the Bush and Clinton administrations, Delhi and Washington negotiated an arrangement that acknowledged Delhi's global role and increasing influence. This arrangement is of mutual benefit. Pakistan matters less to India as Delhi expands its strategic horizons. As Pakistan's importance to India lessons, so will Indian-Pakistani tensions. But as India frees itself from the weight of its Pakistan problem it has greater maneuverability to increase its influence in East Asia. China is threatened by that.

Thus, China won a diplomatic victory by getting Washington to agree to "cooperate" on issues of peace and development in South Asia. If China and America work together on South Asian issues, such as peace between India and Pakistan, then China is the great power while India is simply another South Asian country that needs help from others to solve its problems. With the joint statement, Obama officially accorded India junior status in Asia.

We should not be surprised by China's positions. What is surprising -- and extremely problematic -- is that on these key issues Obama is acquiescing in them.



New Member
Nov 20, 2009
Obama's beijing trip

Obama:” Veni, Vidi, Audi”!
Je suis venu, j’ai vu, et j’ai ecoute Hu Jin Tao.
I did come, see and listen to Hu Jin Tao.
In the Beijing November 17, 2009, U.S.-China Joint Statement, the two sides solemnly declared that:
“The United States and China underscored the importance of the Taiwan issue in U.S.-China relations. China emphasized that the Taiwan issue concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and expressed the hope that the United States will honor its relevant commitments and appreciate and support the Chinese side’s position on this issue”.
It means that:
1- The so-called “Taiwan issue” is the pre-condition for the new americano-chinese relations in the Obama’s era.
2- As the “Taiwan issue” is just a tiny part of a bigger issue, in this case, the China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
3- => the U.S. is expected to honor its relevant commitments and support the Chinese side’s position on this issue.
And, it’s exactly the Obama’s response, according to Hu Jin Tao press statement:
President Obama on various occasions has reiterated that the U.S. side adheres to the one-China policy, abides by the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués, and respects China's sovereignty and the territorial integrity when it comes to the Taiwan question and other matters. The Chinese side appreciates his statements
(Hurrah! Bravo! Bis! Encore!)
Instead of “venit, vedit, vincit”, Obama did “venit, vidit, audit”.
He did come, see, listen (to Hu) , not win.
The U.S.-China three-joint communiques.
1- The February 28,1972" Joint Communique between the People's Republic of China and the United States of America" (also referred as the "Shanghai Communiqu¨¦") wad a prelude to the “in honoris” retreat of the US Forces from the Vietnam War, and the invasion of the Paracels (Hoang Sa) two years later, and the exclusion of Taiwan from the UN as a sine qua non condition for the establishment of the americano-chinese relations in 1979.

2- The 1979 joint-communique.
On January 1, 1979, China and the U.S. formally established diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level. The U.S. announced the severance of its so-called diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the withdrawal of its troops from Taiwan and the ceasing of the U.S.-Taiwan Joint Defense Treaty within the year (also referred as "sever diplomatic ties, abrogate the Treaty and withdraw troops").
In January 1979, China's leader Deng Xiaoping visited the U.S. at the invitation of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, opening a new chapter in the history of China-U.S. relations. (Source:).
Some weeks later, the chinese lesson’s war” was inflicted to Vietnam.

3- The 1982 "China-U.S. August 17 Communique¨ :” The U.S. side undertook in the communique that "it does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China, and that it intends gradually to reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution".

According to the same source, the three China-U.S. Joint Communiques ( the "Shanghai Communiqu¨¦", the "Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States of America" and the "China-U.S. August 17 Communiqu¨¦") constitute the documents guiding the development of China-U.S. relations.

Those three communiques are re-mentioned in the Obama-Hu Jin Tao joint communique and press comnnunique as below:
The United States stated that it follows its one China policy and abides by the principles of the three U.S.-China joint communiqués. The United States welcomes the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait and looks forward to efforts by both sides to increase dialogues and interactions in economic, political, and other fields, and develop more positive and stable cross-Strait relations.
According to this statement, the “Taiwan issue” is no more a headache but a peaceful development .Verite de la Palisse, as a french saying.
As the “Taiwan issue” is so peacefully resolved, just a matter of time exactly like Hongkong and Macau, what are the remaining issues of the China's sovereignty and the territorial integrity if not the Senkaku islands and the Spratly islands in dispute with Japan and Vietnam?

Half a century ago, the containment policy was the bedrock of the US policy under President Eisenhower and the reason for the US involment in (or the cause of ) the Vietnam war , and the Korean war.
Nowaday, the 44th US elected President solmenly proclaimed from the Suntory Hall in Tokyo to the Shanghai City Hall meeting with the Chinses students that “the United States does not seek to contain China”.
From “deathly containment” to “no-containment at all”, is this an U-turn in the US policy?
Hao! Hao! He deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, our dear Comrade Obama !


Regular Member
May 24, 2009
Ever since President Nixon, the US has changed its stance on China. President Obama is just a continuation of that trend, and President Bush (W) was the exception (Good riddance to the most unpopular US President ever)

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