Photo, New York Times
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on a 10 day, 6 nation tour of Asia and yesterday was in Beijing for talks with Chinese leaders.
Her arrival was not without controversy and met with barbs coming from the Chinese media, particularly over what many in China see as U.S. meddling in Chinese affairs, specifically China's dispute with her neighbors bordering the South China Sea, (more on that issue later in this piece).
But as Chinese custom would have it, officially Mrs. Clinton was greeted with dignity and a warm welcome by Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi saying, "The Chinese-U.S. relationship has maintained stability and achieved development and we have made important progress in some areas."
Mrs. Clinton in turn said, "We are committed to building a cooperative partnership with China" adding, "It is a key aspect of our rebalancing in the Asia-Pacific."
Well back to reality and enough of the official niceties.
As one Chinese writer specializing in foreign policy put it, "The United States should stop its role as sneaky troublemaker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings." Another wrote, "For the United States, the South China Sea is not a matter of territorial disputes. It's an issue of strategic gaming. The United States is concerned about China's naval growth".
Let's hand it to the "unofficial" Chinese for giving us the straight scoop. For it's not lost on the Chinese (official or otherwise) that the U.S. has made what it officially calls a "strategic pivot" toward Asia i.e., establishing a marine garrison in Darwin, Australia on the extreme northern coast of the country, has the U.S. Seventh Fleet operating in the South China Sea, conducting war games with the Philippine Navy in the Sea and has stepped up diplomatic ties with its old nemesis Viet Nam, Brunei, Malaysia along with its long running ties with Taiwan and the Philippines.
To be sure there are legitimate long standing territorial disputes between China and its neighbors Viet Nam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan off the coast in the South China Sea. Though unresolved, they have been dealt with diplomatically by all the neighbors without resorting to war. Now with the discovery of vast oil and gas deposits in the Sea and the offshore islands as well as the purported $5 trillion in commerce that traverses the Sea, its economic importance has immeasurably heightened.
But the territorial disputes in question are purely LOCAL among the adversaries while the stepped up U.S. naval presence in the area contributes nothing to their resolve but it certainly adds to the heightening of tensions along with the clear U.S. intent to contain China under the pretext of keeping the sea lanes open and protecting China's smaller neighbors from their larger neighbor.
As for Clinton's "building a cooperative partnership with China" that's nothing more than pure hokum and a smokescreen which the Chinese aren't buying. To them the U.S. is meddling in local Chinese/Asian affairs and is only interested in containing China while contriving to make it as a potential strategic enemy.