United States’ involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terror are compromising the U.S. presence in Asia.
Speaking at the Heritage Foundation yesterday, Randy Schriver, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs said, “commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan, the global war on terror and others have required us to enlist others in trying to manage problems elsewhere particularly in East Asia.”
It was added that this administration now treats China as a strategic partner in East Asia, something that President Bush said he would not do seven years ago.
“As far as East Asia is concerned, the United states seems not to make a move without consulting Beijing,” said John J. Tkacik, a Senior Fellow at the Asian Studies Center at Heritage.
Critics of this strategy argue that United States is “letting China eat America’s lunch in Asia.” This policy which some people refer to as ‘co-managing Asia with China’ has raised concerns that it maligns the Japanese who have been a longtime ally of the U.S. in this region. It is believed “Japan is the most disillusioned by America’s move to enlist China to co-manage Asia,” Tkacik said in the same event at Heritage.
Therefore, they argue, the United States seems to seek consent from China before acting on policy issues of East Asia. “United States policy on North Korea’s nuclear weapon is dictated by Beijing. U.S. policy towards Burma is equally directed from China. U.S diplomats in Beijing have met with Burmese academics, something arranged by the Chinese,” Tkacik noted.
With regard to U.S. policy on Burma, Bonnie Glaser, a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said, “in the wake of violent crackdown last month, the Bush administration has also looked to China to some extent to use its influence to promote opening up and reform in that country.” She added that China has “deep political and economic investment and more than a billion dollars worth of weapon sales” to Burma. Therefore, “Beijing remains fiercely opposed to imposing economic sanctions on Burma,” she added.
Proponents of the policy believe that there have been benefits reaped from this cooperation with the Chinese on Asian issues. “China’s cooperation has been instrumental and in some instances vital in bringing North Korea to the table and facilitating progress in the negotiations at key junctions,” said Glaser.
“China lent unprecedented support to UN Security Council resolution 1695 and 1718 which imposed limited sanctions and luxury goods ban on Pyongyang after they conducted nuclear and missile tests in 2006,” she pointed out.
She argued that when United States decided not to engage North Korea bilaterally, cooperation with China was inevitable.
Following the breakdown of the 1994 framework on North Korea she argued that the “U.S had to engage other stake holders to ensure a successful policy.” This is because, if the United States worked with other regional nations to denuclearize North Korea and such a deal fell apart due to a lack of cooperation from North Korea, then the U.S. will be better positioned to pursue a tougher policy with the backing of North Korea’s neighbors.
In such a strategy, argued Bonnie Glaser, “enlisting China’s help was a must because no country has greater potential leverage over North Korea” than the Chinese. “Working with China is part of the efforts to maintain stability in North East Asia,” she said.
She asserts that “the policy that seeks to contain China is neither feasible nor wise.” This strategy is said to have been suggested by the Chinese. “The idea of co-management is a Chinese proposal. They are making themselves available to us,” said Randy Schriver.
There have been recent concerns about increased cooperation with China, specifically from the proposed acquisition of 3Com Corp (COMS.O), a Massachusetts-based technology group, by the Chinese Huawei technologies, arguing that the $2.2 billion transaction threatens the U.S. national security and may raise risks of cyber attacks from China.