Азиатские тигры (igor_tiger) wrote,
Азиатские тигры

Новая холодная война в Азии

Time: Новая холодная война в Азии

Changing Currents
credits its long
rise to a commitment to peace after its catastrophic losses in World War II,
while China
has linked its recent economic-boom trajectory to a philosophy of
"peaceful development." But while both nations use the word peace, or
a variant of it, whenever they can, China
and Japan have become locked in a nasty war of words, with many wondering what will come

The growing friction reflects the shifting power dynamic in the
Asia-Pacific region. This summer, if Beijing's
official figures are to be believed, China
surpassed recession-plagued Japan
as the world's second largest economy. Now, a resource-hungry China is flexing
its geopolitical muscle too. The Diaoyu/Senkaku islands may be uninhabited
rocks, but they are thought to be surrounded by major underwater deposits of
natural gas; not coincidentally, in August Beijing announced that it had
dispatched a manned submarine more than two miles beneath the South China Sea
to plant a Chinese flag on the seafloor. China's
increasingly assertive claim to nearly all of the South
China Sea
has riled other Asian nations, who believe they're
entitled to at least part of that vast aquatic expanse. Most contentious are
the Spratly and Paracel islands, a scattering of coral atolls across much of
the South China Sea, parts of which are
claimed by six governments and are located in waters — surprise, surprise —
believed to hold significant untapped oil and natural-gas reserves. Even as China complained about the treatment of its
trawler and crew by Japanese forces, Vietnamese officials have been quietly
grumbling that Chinese naval boats routinely detain Vietnamese fishermen who
venture into waters Beijing
considers its own.

The country that has best kept the peace in this fractious neighborhood
is also the one not nursing any territorial grievances: the U.S. Under
long-standing security alliances, Washington
vows to deploy U.S. forces
to protect its Asian allies if any hostile nation — for which read: China — were to
attack. In late September, around the same time Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao
refused to meet his Japanese counterpart in New York City because of the island
spat, Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton told him the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands were covered by Article 5
of the U.S.-Japan security pact, which calls for America to defend territories
under the administration of Japan should they come under attack.

It's hard to believe that the U.S.
would truly contemplate a war with China
over a sprinkling of rocks in the East China Sea.
Nevertheless, Washington's
assurances were welcomed in a country increasingly insecure about being
overshadowed by its giant neighbor. It's not just Japan that feels that way. With China's economic and political sway expanding in
Asia just as Washington seems distracted by
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, other Asia-Pacific nations have
been urging the U.S.
to reorient its foreign policy in the region. "China
will enlarge its influence in Asia and will be competing with the U.S. for influence in Asia," says Niu Jun,
professor of international relations at Peking University.
"Whether this competition is good or not for Asia,
we will have to see in the future."

The U.S.
has taken notice. In a frank assessment earlier this year, Admiral Robert
Willard, head of U.S. Pacific Command, told the House Armed Services Committee
that China's rapid military modernization — as evidenced by double-digit growth
of its military budget over the past decade — appears "designed to
challenge U.S. freedom of action in the region or exercise aggression or
coercion of its neighbors, including U.S. treaty allies and partners." To
counter China, President
Barack Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Asia, has been assiduously
reaffirming U.S.
ties with its Asian partners. On Sept. 24, Obama held a summit with leaders of
the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes
key American friends such as Singapore
and Thailand.
Pledged Obama: "As President, I've made it clear that the United States intends to play a leadership role
in Asia."

Home Game
There's reason to think he means what he says. Bilateral relations with Vietnam, for example, have blossomed to the
point where the countries conducted joint military exercises in the South China Sea in August. That didn't please China any more than did recent naval drills by U.S. and South Korean troops in the Yellow Sea,
which borders China's
coast. Along with other ASEAN members vying with China
over the Spratly and Paracel islands, Vietnam
was delighted when Secretary Clinton said in July that a peaceful resolution of
territorial spats in the South China Sea was
an American "national interest." China hated that too. "There
is a perception among some Chinese that the U.S.
wants to weaken China and is
using other countries to contain China,"
says Shen Dingli, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University
in Shanghai.

Of course, foreign policy often has as much to do with domestic affairs
as international ones. It makes sense for Obama to get tough with China when the supposed manipulation of its
currency is being blamed at home for U.S. job losses. Similarly,
Japanese Prime Minister Kan, who just survived a leadership challenge from
within his own party, may have used a firm stance on the Diaoyu/Senkaku issue
not only to placate a public ever more wary of Beijing but also to bolster his own
precarious political position.

Strange though it may be to contemplate — the Chinese leadership is
hardly bound by the ballot box — the same domestic imperative probably applies
in Beijing too.
Nationalist sentiment is on the rise in China, which doubtless makes its
leaders feel that they need to talk tough on any territorial disputes involving
the nation responsible for the brutal 1931-45 occupation of much of the
country. The fishermen of Gangfu had better get used to choppy waters.


Tags: АСЕАН, Китай-США

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