US-Chinese relations Is Washington playing a “dangerous game”?

US-Chinese relations  Is Washington playing a “dangerous game”?

While the United States maintains a high-level diplomatic dialogue with China, it is increasing its security alliances to discourage the Asian superpower's regional expansionist goals.

This approach angers Beijing, which warns Washington of the need to respect its “legitimate rights” regarding development.

This topic was discussed in particular on Friday during a high-level meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who criticized his country's muscular actions in the South China Sea.

“You indicated clearly […] Our commitments to the defense of the Philippines remain firm, the diplomat warned, echoing recent skirmishes that took place near a wreck occupied by Filipino soldiers in the Spratly Archipelago.

The Chinese government aspires to control maritime traffic in the South China Sea, and has developed strategic military infrastructure on several islands while maintaining pressure on countries that have territorial claims that conflict with its own.

Alliances abound

Khris Templeman, an Asia specialist at Stanford University, points out that many countries in the region are concerned about Beijing's plans and have chosen to strengthen their relations with the United States to protect against any future aggression.

Their situation mirrors that of Taiwan, which relies on American protection to confront a potential Chinese invasion attempt.

The Philippines, which had moved closer to Beijing under former President Rodrigo Duterte, has noticeably changed course completely with the rise to power of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The latter visited the American capital a few weeks ago to announce, with great fanfare, the launch of a tripartite security partnership with the United States and Japan, America's long-time ally.

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stressed on this occasion that China represents “the most important strategic challenge” for his country and the international community as a whole.

Last August, the United States announced another tripartite agreement with South Korea and Japan, which have long been at odds over violations that occurred during World War II.

These rapprochements come in addition to the strategic alliance concluded a few years ago with Australia and the United Kingdom, which should lead in particular to the deployment of US nuclear submarines in Perth.

double-edged sword

In an open letter published this week in The New York TimesTwo Asia specialists stressed that Washington's efforts to develop its alliances in the Asia-Pacific region and its ability to intervene against Beijing represent a “dangerous game.”

It is possible, as Mike Mochizuki and Michael Swain warn, that China will respond by redoubling its efforts to develop its military capabilities, and may even decide to intensify the use of force to bolster its territorial claims.

The researchers, who are concerned that a “military incident” or “political incident” could lead to a regional war, say the region could become “more divided and dangerous than it is today” against the backdrop of an arms race.

They say that intensifying diplomatic efforts with Beijing is the way to avoid such a scenario.

Stand up to Beijing

Chris Templeman points out that conflict between great powers is unlikely to arise by chance.

He says that the United States can only strengthen its military position in the Asian political region to influence Beijing's behavior.

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June Dreyer, an Asia specialist at the University of Miami, agrees.

The analyst points out that “it is very good to have more dialogue, but it will not change ideas,” considering that it is necessary for the US administration to show firmness in confronting Beijing.

The experience of the past forty years has shown beyond doubt, in her opinion, that the communist regime regards any concession as a “sign of weakness” and an invitation to move forward.

“When a concession is made, they put it in their pockets and put other demands on the table. There is no reciprocity,” warns M.I Dreyer.

The idea that American efforts in the region to encourage Beijing to exercise restraint will have the opposite effect is unfounded. If nothing is done, the Chinese regime will simply continue its aggressive actions.

Read the open letter published in The New York Times (In English; subscription required)

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About the Author: Hermínio Guimarães

"Introvertido premiado. Viciado em mídia social sutilmente charmoso. Praticante de zumbis. Aficionado por música irritantemente humilde."

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