Plenty of water has passed under the bridge for China and the US since President Obama took office. What started out warmly soon turned chilly, and many feel the Sino- US relationship is heading toward a dangerously uncertain era.
Tensions have been building in recent weeks over events in the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea. Many Chinese observers wonder if the US is trying to contain China’s peaceful growth. The US is even improving its relationships with China’s neighbors that were once former US opponents.
There are signs that the US is trying to meddle and dominate issues involving China.
For decades, US policy toward China wavered between containment and engagement.
The new policy initiatives of the Obama administration that stress US soft power and moral strength have not changed the traditional US way of dealing with China.
Many Chinese scholars tend to agree that the closer China and the US get, the more deep-seated contradictions existing between the two countries will become apparent.
If a deeper confrontation is inevitable, what can China do? The Chinese government has not sent a clear signal, though there is heated debate among the public as how to respond to the aggressive US policy. Ideas range from military action to leveraging China’s financial holdings of US assets, to more diplomatic communication. Admittedly, China has fewer means to counter the US than the US can use against China.
China won’t follow a path to war like Japan did in World War II, but that does not mean that China will surrender to US strategic containment. China should on one hand speed up defensive modernization, and on the other hand, continue to rise peacefully using its economic power.
This does not mean China’s economic and trade relationship with the US will sour, but instead will integrate further. Deeper and wider engagement with the US can help shun US aggression and is the best way to discourage the hawks in Washington.
Pushing forward China’s relationship with the US is not a sign of weakness; on the contrary, it has fueled China’s development in recent years. The gradual rise of China will prove to be a success.
Taking on China as a competitor may serve as an incentive to the US. If the US takes China as an enemy, the result would be disastrous.