Can China Crash U.S. Pivot Party?
Image Credit: Chinese Foreign Ministry

Can China Crash U.S. Pivot Party?


For the past several months, the United States has been busy promoting its “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions.  Free from conflict in Iraq, and with the winding down of its involvement in Afghanistan apparently accelerating, the U.S. now has more freedom to focus its strategic muscle on this dynamic part of the world. Through pronouncements in the press, and with some carefully crafted diplomatic and strategic jockeying, the United States is gradually reasserting itself in the region.

Such a shift is no surprise to anyone who has been following recent geopolitical events. Militarily, the United States made its intentions clear in the 2007 Maritime Strategy report under the George W. Bush administration.  While still engaged in two wars in the Middle East, U.S security planners were still crafting a change of strategy well before the withdrawal of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan had been finalized.

In March 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all but declared that a new game was afoot. “We are in a competition for influence with China,” she told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Let’s put aside the humanitarian, do-good side of what we believe in. Let's just talk straight realpolitik. We are in competition with China.”

Such a shift makes sense for a number of reasons. The Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions are home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. With America’s precarious economic position, gaining access to such markets offers the prospect of more American jobs and a boost to a still sluggish economy.

But it’s hard to escape the reality that China is the key reason for the U.S. refocusing. With the United States having spent the better part of the last decade fighting conflicts in the Middle East, China has meanwhile gone to great lengths to enhance its strategic position in East Asia. Beijing has steadily increased its armed forces budget over the last decade. With its advances in anti-access weapons and asymmetrical arms, U.S. forces are, according to one scholar, “On the wrong side of physics.”  While U.S. military forces outgun their Chinese rivals, recent studies suggest China’s military budget will double by 2015, meaning a China-centric strategy makes sense.

Still, it’s important not to overstate the speed with which the U.S. pivot – and the associated China concerns – have taken place. The fact is that U.S. -China tensions aren’t exactly new. Indeed, seemingly lost in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks is the fact that the United States and China faced off in the Taiwan Strait in 1996 and in 2001 over an aircraft collision near Hainan Island. In The Diplomat last May, Frank Ching correctly pointed out, “Bush himself had already repudiated the Clinton administration’s policy of forging a strategic partnership with China, calling Beijing a strategic competitor, rather than a strategic partner.” Several days after the return of its EP-3 surveillance crew, the U.S.  offered Taiwan a massive arms package. With tensions brewing “shifts in attitudes in both nations seem to be pointing to a showdown.”

September 20, 2013 at 04:25

This US pivot is ineffective and harmless to China. China simply has no need to formulate a counter against it.

Basically, containing China is useless because it does not have to expand in order to achieve most of its objectives. Any US containment policy will be more timely, still to its natural limits, after about 20 years. The current pivot is categorically wasted effort because it is too early.

There is no constricting an immense country that is growing economically. China will spend 2-3% of its GDP on defense, along with comprehensive national development, if its internal problems are contained and ameliorated.

Taiwan will not be able to avoid reunification with a Hong Kong-like deal and Japan will have to negotiate with China.

This type of pivot cannot hinder Chinese economic progress and hence military progress. China will gain the advantage over Japan and, more obviously, over Taiwan in a few decades. China will not need to start a war to achieve its objectives re Japan and Taiwan.  It can exert greater and greater pressure upon the background of military superiority—to prevent war and to compel.

China does not yet have enough military superiority so it will not be overly assertive; thus this US pivot is far too early–but eventually it will be useless.


A Chinese Philosopher
September 2, 2013 at 00:52

Normally people who don't have any real power within their societies and over themselves read articles like this and leave their ideas as a way to prove their existence to themselves, though they certainly not aware of that. I respect that rule of nature and have to admit I am in some way one of them. It is sad people finger point to each other who they will never encounter or care about, or have any conflictory interests throughout history. People do that in all kinds of names, nationalism as one of them, to make themselves feel better, but in reality, they are exploited, low-living working people, trying to find some entertainment online. As someone who has lived in the West for years, I admire the Western elites in their mastery of their people in the name of freedom and democracy. Their art is far better than their Chinese peers with a Communist history. Still, those people who are manufactured to think with others' heads, speak in others' tongue, who cannot or unwilling to leave meanful arguments, do not deserve respect, even from me. To these people, my best wishes for their future is the continuation of their existence, depending largely on their usefulness as living tools. Still, please be happy, even with a confusing and miserable life.

Leadership : Competencies & Policies
October 1, 2012 at 13:58

Totally agree with you Liang1a.  There's something seriously wrong with Beijing's psyche.  Many of its response are plain stupid and unnecessary, whether in China Daily or CCTV or any other news medias. 
You have done nothing wrong, why the need to reply to Washington's accusation of indulging "arms-race"?  Beijing responds like a scared kid bullied by an adult most of the time.  It does not need to justify or answer many of these accusations.  And its damned long winded in many issues.  It should tell Washington buzz off and mind its own business. 
Seriously, I think there are too many stupid people in leadership positions in China.  They do not understand communications nor the nuances of language in communication in political warfare and diplomacy.  Just surprise they still haven't learnt the important of communications and public relations and how to maintain a good image and how and what to say and not say and when.  Hu a great leader?  I think not.  On balance should not had been elevated to a position to high for his level of competence. That position is not for people very much down the learning curve.  It is too important for that. 
Between Hu and Bo, I think Bo can do much much better for China.  As long as he ensures his family are restrained from exploiting or taking excessive advantage of their position for business proposals opportunities (strictly these are not corruption but political opportunism which can be capped with politicians distancing from business in his family.  See Mr Putin's policy).

"Shaping" China To Washington's Wishes
October 1, 2012 at 13:45

This article is just another attempt to "shape" so-called China's behaviour or Beijing's policy-making.  Another attempted propaganda piece. Personally, I would throw it in the trash bin.  Not a thesis worth spending too much time on.  If mr Hu listens to the "advice" here, he would indeed be a ventroloquist dummy; Allowing his empty head again to be manipulated by such American "friends".  Smart leaders should scribble a note on the side – "the diplomat – enemy propaganda;  "Advice" to be ignored at ALL times".

July 26, 2012 at 16:39

China will definitely not take the advice, doled out gratuitously in this essay, about being friendly with the neighbours. With the growing domestic resentment of venality and corruption,Beijing will definitely choose warfare with the neighbours, perhaps low-intensity warfare. Further China is motivated by two major aspirations of Hitler. 1. lebensraum: the Hans breeding copiously, will not be satisfied with Xinjiang, Mongolia and Tibet; they are eyeing Vietnam and Arunachal Pradesh. . anschluss; having spread out in all directions, they will demand that the areas where Chines have settled in substantial numbers should be joined with China. It's time to take note.

Tofu Dynasty
March 6, 2012 at 14:55

How many people here have actually been to China? In Shanghai China’s premier city, Chinese urban dwellers hang their clothes out to dry like the Favelas in Brazil. China is not even at Mexico’s level of GDP per capita and the Red Guards in here are already crowning China as a developed superpower! It makes me laugh but they do look and sound ridiculous when the reality of China makes a mockery out of their claim. Maybe when I see less clothes drying outside in Shanghai then I would believe China is progressing. :))

Cyrus Tronco(RES)PA
March 3, 2012 at 14:47

Because Jbond I am a Filipino and I know one when I read one. If he is a Filipino I would know like Kimbo Laurel and the other Filipino here.

March 3, 2012 at 14:39

John how many Chinese products have been recalled in recent memory because it has chemicals not safe for human consumption?

February 29, 2012 at 22:05

I didn’t steal Oro’s ideas, but stand well refuted.

I am working under the supposition that the U.S will start and prolong the war. This might win China sympathy for it’s defensive use of mines. The international community will blame the U.S for the war.
Alternative sea shipping lanes under U.S military protection will be created.

I think your underestimating the Chinese diesel submarine threat. A few thousand troop losses by the U.S will turn domestic opinion against the war, and that’s all China needs. This isn’t the occupation of Iraq.

February 29, 2012 at 03:14

@J Bourne & Chan,
Speaking out the truth & giving you folks the true facts are ‘ranting’?! Maybe someone here really needs some help frome a shrink !

J Bond
February 29, 2012 at 00:19

@a_canadian_observer :

What are you talking about in reply to Pinoy Joe? Do you always talk gibberish?

J Bond
February 29, 2012 at 00:14

@a_canadian_observer : Really? And your spurious claims, just because you say so, becomes fact? Where did this clown comes from?

J Bourne
February 29, 2012 at 00:04

@knowledge : I don’t think Fu Man-chu is trying to boast or brag. I think you are going totally out of point. In fact, what you are doing is ranting. And that ain’t so healthy. I know a Dr “No”. Perhaps … ?

Tofu Dynasty
February 28, 2012 at 14:56

Wow, more Red Guards are crowing about predictions and forecasting of China’s future economic progress from some obscure Think Thank I see!!! It seems like wishful thinking is the only thing the descendants of Mao can use as proof of China’s economic superiority built on sweat shop labor and investment from Overseas Chinese. The future is very hard to predict. Who would have predicted the internet, iphone, ipad, Microsoft ect. By the way did any of those things came from China? LOL Keep dreaming little Red Guards. Your government can’t even convince your own people and much less ethnic minorities like Uighurs and Tibetans that China is stable and prosperous.

Like I said fifty years from the US will remain a stable prosperous democracy while Communist China will become what?????? I think the chances of China imploding is more valid and more believable than wishful thinking.

Remember making Christmas lights and value meal toys does not mean economic superiority or superpower status! :) I love how unrealistic these Chinese dreamers are.

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