The Obama administration may want to build up its military presence in East Asia and the Pacific, but the Chinese have thoughts about it, too. The Washington Post carries an interview with Cui Tiankai, the deputy foreign minister in charge of relations with the United States.
Some quotes from Cui:
“Although different presidents have been in office, the China policy of the administrations has been fairly consistent. I see no reason we should disrupt or stop this trend.”
“The U.S. has the strongest military in the world and spends more than any other country,” Cui said. “But the U.S. always feels unsafe or insecure about other countries.” He added, “I suggest the United States spend more time thinking about how to make other countries feel less worried about the United States.”
I couldn’t agree more. The Post added:
“Cui said that despite a few ‘hot-spot issues,’ the Asia-Pacific region was, on the whole, ‘stable and peaceful,’ and that Asian countries wanted to concentrate on their economic development. ‘I don’t think military alliances is what they need most.’ ”
Another Chinese official, Liu Weimin, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, also criticized the US strategic review:
“China’s strategic intent is clear, open and transparent. Our national defense modernization serves the objective requirements of national security and development and also plays an active role in maintaining regional peace and stability. It will not pose any threat to any country. The charges against China in this document are groundless and untrustworthy.”
And the defense ministry added, “The accusations leveled at China by the US side in this document are totally baseless.”
Not only that, but to underline its point, Beijing isn’t going along with plans to cut off Iran’s oil exports, either. Fact is, Obama needs China’s economic cooperation, above all, in partnership with the United States, to get the world economy back on track. And rather than bluster about “balancing” China in Asia, Washington should redouble efforts to work out a cooperation relationship with China that recognizes China’s real, and legitimate, national security interests. The days of American hegemony are so twentieth century.