Thursday, December 3, 2009

China To Lead New Balancing Act in Asia Pacific

Many Asian countries hope to use the US power to balance the emergence of China. This is an open secret. Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's recent speech in the United States called for the United States to participate more actively in the Asia-Pacific affairs; to counter balance China's military and economic power. Lee opined that if the United States failed to do that, the United States would lose global leadership. Lee's remarks have made some Chinese neti-zens very unhappy. They feel this Singapore political patriarch was, in a subtle manner, trying to move closer to the United States through this speech. They feel Lee Kuan Yew has completely disregarded the feelings of the Chinese people.

Situation in Asia Pacific Region
However, if we look at the present situation in the Asia Pacific region, then perhaps we can understand the psychological concern of Lee. The political and economic structure of Asia Pacific at this moment is moving toward a new balancing trend. After the Cold War, the Asia Pacific countries are focused on finding a new balance. To balance who? Put it plainly, the first is to balance China.
No matter what China's own thought can be, the rise of China has already caused a change in the original Asia-Pacific balancing framework. For countries in the Asia Pacific region, the sudden appearance of a big country rapidly growing in strength near their side such as China is not a small challenge. They need to deal with this challenge in order to protect their national interest.

Emerging Major Power
In addition, as a region, Asia never has a security mechanism that is formed by combined consultation and cooperation effort coming from all Asian nations. While some countries remain allies of the United States when 'cold war' confrontational situation arises, some countries still wary and adopt biased attitude toward China. Now China has gradually viewed by the region as an emerging major power' and thus the concern of a rising China by some Asian countries is understandable.
In the past, the United States was the leading force in the region, in the foreseeable future the United States will remain the same; and no country can replace the United States. Therefore, some Asia Pacific countries want to rely on the United States to balance the emergence of China in exchange for their own stability. This is very natural thing to do.

China's Political Ideology
China does not want to lead in the Asia Pacific regional affairs. China will not go all the way out to compete with the United States for the dominant role in Asia Pacific region. Even if China's strength has become the strongest in Asia, China has no such strong desire to take up the supreme leading role in the Asia Pacific. To China, taking up this 'Big Brother' role is not a good thing to do. It is also in inconsistent with China's political ideology.
In fact, most countries in the Asia Pacific region, including the United States understand that the future security order of Asia Pacific cannot rely on the United States to maintain peace and security alone. What Asia needs is a new kind of balance. This new kind of balance is no longer the kind of confrontational balance of arms twisting in the past but a balance that is built upon cooperation and consultation. It is only based on such a new balance force that the Asia pacific community can build a new regional security structure.

Balancing Force
Thus, having a new balancing force for China is not a bad thing. China needs to understand the mentality behind why other countries want to balance an emerging China. This works along the line that there will also be time that China will also have the need to balance other rising force too. In future, China may need to learn how to balance some other country's balancing act in order to survive and develop the nation. China should not have the concept that just because a country in the region tries to use another country to play the balancing game, such a balancing act is targeted to confront China. China should know that smaller countries in the Asian region do have their difficult in dealing with international affairs.
Learning to understand the mentality of the Asia Pacific countries is crucial for China to cooperate with all Asia Pacific nations. People in China should have such endurance. Even if in the days to come, when China's interaction and cooperation with Asian Pacific countries has increased China's mutual trust with countries in the region, it does not mean that the region will not need a balancing force, a balancing act. An effective operational mechanism in a multi polar world requires balancing act, especially good balance among the major powers. If China intends to become a major power, China must learn to adapt to this kind of balancing act.

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