With Obama MIA, China Touts Multipolar World
Image Credit: flickr/APEC 2013

With Obama MIA, China Touts Multipolar World

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While the cat's missing, the mice will build economic and political ties to hinder U.S. interests in Asia.

The APEC summit in Bali and the East Asia Forum meeting in Brunei went Obama-less due to a Republican-led hissy fit that shut down the US government a week ago. In the meantime, China is pushing its economic interests and pushing back against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

Xi Jingping has been the star of the recent talks in Asia, giving the planet a taste of a new "multi-polar" world. With his talk of a Maritime Silk Road and his suspiciously passive remarks on island disputes, Xi definitely made an impression. Sure, John Kerry made the trip and is doing his level best to shore up support, but he has been overshadowed by China's surprisingly charming charm offensive and Obama's no-show.

Xi's keynote speech at the APEC summit on Monday drove home the idea, with Xi saying that APEC will play a leading role in opening up the world economy. The days of double digit growth in China are over, but long term investment in Southeast Asia means stability for Chinese investments, something the U.S. is currently not offering to China's satisfaction. While Obama sat in Washington and with Kerry trying to allay fears of default, Xi called for closer ties with the ASEAN; ties are one thing but being able to keep island disputes off the docket could affect the entire region.

In fact, China's state media is heralding this switch in attention to a new world order. An editorial in the state-run Global Times said, "Developed countries have enjoyed an advantageous position for too long. Now they need to seriously think about the new situation in the 21st century…Only by doing this can they acknowledge the new order of the global economy."

 This doesn't exactly stop the pivot to Asia, but it's an odd signal for Asian nations looking for stability and a bad mark for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that excludes China, something that the Chinese editorial called a "difficulty for the Asia-Pacific region at large."  Xi alluded to the TPP in his speech, according to Su Hao, director of the Asia-Pacific Research Center at China Foreign Affairs University, who said the, "TPP is like a small circle which might be against APEC's aim to achieve wide economic integration in the region."

Of course, China isn't the only country that has problems with the TPP, but these recent events could shift China from upset onlooker to direct opponent. China filling the gap could have serious implications for the U.S. This means that countries like Malaysia–which had a turbulent relationship with the U.S. in the 90s–are warming to the idea of a Chinese Asia, especially with US$25 billion in investments over the next five years.

Kerry said on Monday, "I want to emphasize that there is nothing that will shake the commitment of the rebalance to Asia that President Obama is leading." This is cold comfort to Asian stock markets that took a hit due to the U.S. woes. If the U.S. wants to keep the conversation on its terms, Obama is going to need to offer more than political dreams.

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20
China hyperpower
October 15, 2013 at 13:01

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a_canadian_obderver
October 15, 2013 at 10:13

@China man has a say:  Now you've got your dose of opium, go take a nap.

J.A. Yalinin
October 12, 2013 at 13:19

Other then the lost of further talks on security and economy, the current crisis in the US will harm any political opportunities in the region.

If the relationship between the US and America is an ideological conflict then the current shutdown in the US does no good for the perception of Democracy in SE Asia. Any chance, democracy is seen as instability is another propaganda coup for the Authoritarian Development model that China and other countries push. As we know, ASEAN countries have in the past or at the present have had much more experience with government in the hands of a few then government of the people. And what will ASEAN think of a government that comes to a halt over something as promising and beneficial as Universal Healthcare?

papa john
October 12, 2013 at 12:46

Whew, if SEA countries received offers from China then the outcome would be? if you don't want your beloved countries in a few years flooded by the mainland Chinese, your beautiful land would be a waste land and your smiling relaxed easy-going people would become more like Chinese. Just look at the Chinese way, Chinese tourists carrying and promoting with them around the world so you know how you would live under Chinese.

Chinaman has a say
October 12, 2013 at 01:26

The US can offer war to Asia, while China can offer peace and prosperity, now which one do you think Asian people will choose?

Chinaman has a say
October 12, 2013 at 01:19

A sick cat should be looked after welll to make sure it can never hurt the mice again.

Socrates
October 10, 2013 at 16:26

I dunt think it's really that bad for USA so long as USA keeps translating  its Asia pivot rhetoric into actions.Besides, all Asean countries excepts Philippine apply the same approach to USA and China

so that they can minimize the backlash if they heavily rely on either one of the two.

However, USA can rest assured that most Asean countries excepts Campuchia, Laos and may be Vietnam see China as the most dangerous threat to their countries integrities rather than USA because  thousands years of  Asia history has proved that China (Han ethnic) is Expansionism/Chauvinism and  Obsorbism by nature.

ACT
October 10, 2013 at 02:25

@DerekM, Kanes,

what change? I haven't really seen much different; the PRC is merely emulating the U.S' bad behavior on an ever-more-frequent basis. In fact, the more I do research, the more the PRC appears to be chillingly similar to Wilhelmine Germany before WWI or Meiji Japan; a government that cannot keep pace with an increasingly vocal public, which is ill equipped to deal with pressing social, cultural and economic problems, and which is increasingly turning to nationalism and the notion of external threats to unify its public; whose foreign policy is largely dictated by imperial envy and the unceasing need for its own "place in the sun" as demanded by history, and–most critically–whose national dream is defined in part by a strong, agressive military exactly in keeping with the meiji "rich country, strong army." I fully expect that, rather than seeing a multi-polar world where the U.S is somehow "checked" by a rising or dominant PRC, that the "multipolar world" will merely be a "bi-polar world" where the PRCs strength will give it liscence to play imperial hegemon in the western Asia-Pacific; where the PRC finally has the strength to–uncomfortably (or bloodily) for all others involved–settle the age old revanchist/irredentist grudges versus the notion of Chinese Democracy (Taiwan) and (Japan/The West), upon which the CPC has all but explicitly based its legitimacy.

Bankotsu
October 9, 2013 at 18:18

But the U.S. still wants a unipolar world order. They don't accept multipolar world.

Bankotsu
October 9, 2013 at 16:39

"…welcome the US with open arms to the region to contain a bully arrogrant China…"

Asians are pragmatic people, if they can't get rid of U.S., they will find ways of squeezing everything they can out of it.

Kanes
October 9, 2013 at 13:41

At last. So we now accept the world is a multipolar world. A good start to understanding the current world order.

Cam
October 9, 2013 at 13:06

Yeah, funny enough. China is an asian country but most of Asian neighbors except NKorea and Pak is welcome the US with open arms to the region to contain a bully arrogrant China.

TV Monitor
October 9, 2013 at 11:21

Instead of complaining about the TPP, China should offer something comparable to TPP members. 

DexterM
October 9, 2013 at 10:02

The deniers can "yak" all they want, but the inevitable is within sight and steamrolling over US imperialism. The USA's and UK's hubris has doomed their futures in a multipolar world.

applesauce
October 9, 2013 at 10:00

also the mice is half the size the the cat and unafraid, in fact the cat owes that mice quite a few biskits

gocip
October 9, 2013 at 07:12

Believe me! If China were in the position of USA today as the single superpower, it will be the most terrible country … wait! It already is!

kts
October 9, 2013 at 03:11

I hope China enjoys those multi-polar drones we're putting into Japan and those extra multi-polar troops we're placing in Australia and the Phillipines.  Or those multi-polar advanced weapons we are selling to India.  China better take a closer look at their own position.  They are still not even close to the more developed western countries in many respects and they are pushing their neighbors right into the arms of the US.  There are more people living in poverty in China than there are people in the entire US.  China's economy is already slowing considerably from their unsustainable rate of growth and they can't hide it anymore by fudging the numbers.

TDog
October 9, 2013 at 02:55

Current domestic political disputes aside, the US simply no longer has anything of substance to offer.  Our alliances invariably boil down to the US saying, "Okay, so we will base troops in your country, you grant them complete diplomatic immunity, and you help pay for their upkeep!"  Development projects typically benefit no one but American companies and our loans, whether through the World Bank, IMF, or direct from Washington to the "ally", typially come with such ruinous strings that the debtor nation winds up worse off than before.  Furthermore, we allow vulture capitalists to take advantage of any political unrest within the "allied" nation to seize funds with impunity.

China, on the other hand, has at least the image of being a more benificial and less imperial overlord. Despite the many and multiplying instances of protests launched against Chinese-owned foreign endeavors by the locals, China's unwillingness to impose terms beyond the most captalistic sits well with most national leaders.  Nowhere in any Chinese trade or loan agreement does it state the other party must adopt more Western democratic institutions or implement more measures to promote human rights.  For good or ill, it gives China an advantage when doing business abroad.

Whether or not this leads to a Chinese Asia remains to be seen.  The various maritime disputes and China's abyssmal worker's rights record abroad may constrain its ability to forge a new world order or even a new regional order.  At current rates, if I'm completely honest, a new Chinese Asia will arise despite China's best efforts, not because f it.    

MKY
October 9, 2013 at 02:54

China can yak, yak, yak all they want to ASEAN about their economic ties, but in reality, China has 'zero' Soft Power appeal to all of her neighbors in the ECS & SCS today. Hu Jintao threw away his ten year "peaceful & harmonious" rhetoric down the toilet in 2010 with the PRC showcased their true nature when a Chinese boat Captain rammed two Japanese coast guard cutters in Japanese Administrated waters. China was also willing to break WTO rules by using Rare Earth Minerals as a 'bargaining chip' in that row as I recall.

Yes indeed, China's "actions speak louder than words" come to mind everytime I read the media reports on Chinese 'creeping invasions' into territories of India, Palau, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, and now even Russian far east.

Xi can yak too about a 'Chinese Dream' or yak about "China is Friends to All" rhetoric as well. But as usual, I doubt China is going to have a successful 'Charm Offensive' with ASEAN countries, as they are more concerned about China's 'assertive creeping invasions' into other neighbors territories of late.

Just look at Taiwan! The public is saying that the Ma administration should order those 60 F-16 Block C/Ds from the USA; and in addition, should be ordering those 6 to 8 attack submarines from the USA to boot. If that's any indication of how great mainland China's 'Charm Offensives' have worked in ASIA these days, than I certainly have no worries that China's 'Charm Offensives' with the rest of her neighbors will improve their lack of 'SOFT POWER' appeal now also deteriorating in the Middle East, and the African Union because the PRC has supported Syria in killing civilians.

As many should clearly understand, "China's actions clearly speak louder then their useless words!"

Bankotsu
October 9, 2013 at 00:59

"While the cat's missing, the mice will build economic and political ties to hinder U.S. interests in Asia."

But U.S. is not an asian country. China is in asia. It is U.S. that is the alien country.

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