“Is America Listening to its East Asian Allies?”
PacNet, Number 64
Pacific Forum CSIS
October 18, 2012
In a review of Hugh White’s new book The China Choice, David C. Kang of USC suggests that the U.S. attempt to form a loose coalition of nations to counter China’s growing assertiveness may be entirely wrongheaded. Kang notes that the reason erstwhile US allies are not jumping in to line up behind Washington is that they can less afford to irritate Beijing than they can to irritate Washington.
Both Kang and White make cogent points, and their comments add to a growing corpus of commentary questioning the Obama Asia pivot. What is unclear from the review is a more vital question: is the US effort to create a soft containment field around China doomed to fail? Or are Mr. Obama, Mrs. Clinton, and their teams are simply going about it the wrong way? Are we correct in drawing a thick black line around China in its current borders, implying a Cold War-esque forward-based containment effort? Or should we be thinking more of a realistic approach that accounts for our national will and resources, perhaps stepping back to a line that runs Alaska-Hawaii-Guam-Samoa-Australia?
These are hard, unpleasant questions, not least for the people of Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines, all of whom take for granted the iron umbrella provided by the United States. But this is the direction toward which Kang and White are, more subtly than I, driving us.
- Beijing’s Response to the TPP (pekingreview.com)
- Obama’s eastern pivot, made in Asia (thehindu.com)
- A Closer Look at the American ‘Pivot’ (rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Obama to Face Challenge in Ties With China and Asia (nytimes.com)
- America’s Perilous Pivot (project-syndicate.org)
- How Asia sees Obama’s pivot to the Pacific (miamiherald.com)
- The New Triangular Diplomacy: India, China and America at Sea (thediplomat.com)