The U.S. President Barack Obama, fresh from disapointing midterm elections in the autumn of his presidency, will meet Chinas President Xi Jinping Nov 10-12 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation APEC summit in Beijing. This will be the first major encounter between the two leaders since they met in Sunnylands, California in June last year, when Xi reiterated the need for “a new kind of major power relations” between the world´s two biggest economies. Since that meeting, however, other hotspots around the world have claimed the spotlight, but U.S.-China cooperation has never been more critical.
A new model of major country relationship strategic dialogue mechanisms continue to enrich China-US bilateral relations for the benefit of both two countries. China-U.S, Remarks by Secretary Kerry at the Sixth Round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, offered us many inspirations from the strategic perspective, which also provided important guidance.
Obama’s visit to the region will take him to a series of key multilateral and bilateral summits: first to Beijing, for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting and APEC CEO summit followed by an official state visit to China; then to Myanmar, for the East Asia Summit and U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and a bilateral meeting with President Thein Sein; and finally to Australia for the G-20 summit.
The Asia century is well under way, and with it the emerging challenges of a region in transition. The emergence of the People’s Republic of China as an increasingly significant military power in the Western Pacific presents major implications for Japan, the U.S.-Japan alliance, and regional security. American officials and military planers say China´s goals are to weaken the ties that bind the U.S. to its traditional Asian allies and to undermine the doctrines of free trade and democracy that the U.S. and its allies introduced to region after WW II.
Ahead, this years APEC meeting, Tokyo has been eager for the meeting. China and Japan leaders break ice with first official meeting but not sign of warmth. At the same time, Chinas President seem to be unhappy with the Obama administration on issues ranging from Washington´s outspoken support of its military alliance with Japan, its criticism of China´s actions in the South China Sea, and its hard line on cybertheft.
In Beijing today, President Obama also leveled cautions criticism of Beijings policies, including its opposition to recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. “These are issues ultimately for the people of Hong Kong and China to decide,” he said And President Obama announced a deal between the United states and China that eases short-term visa restrictions for students, tourists and businesses – a move that he said was aimed at increasing tourism and promoting closer ties between the two largest economies.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin´s presence at APEC summit highlights another challenge. In may this year China and Russia agreed to a major 30 years deal that would send natural gas from Siberia by pipeline to China. Unlike what European countries are paying for Russian natural gas China will get lower price. The deal also marked an economic and geopolitical realignment that allows two old rivals to join in common cause against the United States and Europe. That was the mood in May 21 2014.
Despite the potential complications, Washington and Tokyo must seriously evaluate these possible responses. Chinas President Xi Jinpings meeting with Abe of Japan, however, underscored the growing importance of China as a regional power. Current economic and military trends in China, Japan, and the United States suggest that existing policies and strategies might fail to ensure a stable security environment conducive to U.S. and Japanese interests over the long term. More balanced responsibilities and a more robust relationship between the two countries inside the alliance will reinforce an already key element of the regional security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region..
Similarly, cyber security, a new topic in the bilateral relationship is likely to be a touchy issue, but one that both sides have a stong interest in addressing cooperatively. The same is true of efforts to prevent the situation on the Korean peninssule from worsening, Chinas role in nuclear negotiations with Iran and to ensure stability in Afghanistan, its response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and its dealings with a nuclear-armed North Korea. In managing the transition toward multipolarity, the West’s greatest challenge lies here in Asia – a region that is simultaneously dynamic and future-oriented and hampered by historical tensions and divides.
For Japan, Small Gesture Holds Great Importance. The most likely potential challenge to the U.S.-Japan alliance over the next fifteen to twenty years does not, however, involve full-scale military conflict between China and Japan or the United States—for example, one originating from Chinese efforts to expel Washington from the region. The likeliest challenge instead stems from Beijing’s growing coercive power—increasing Chinese military capabilities could enable Beijing to influence or attempt to resolve disputes with Tokyo in its favor short of military attack. An increase disputed territories could also heighten the risk of destabilizing political-military crises.
Recognizing Asia’s profound importance to the new world order, US President Barack Obama announced a strategic “pivot” toward the region in 2012. For three yeas ago, at the time Hillary Clinton as Secretary of Stat, Obamas administration declared that it would pivot U.S military, economic and diplomatic resources to the Asia-Pacific. Accordingly, since the policy’s implementation, the U.S. has begun to seek closer ties – economically, militarily, and diplomatically – with the Pacific Rim countries. In reality, Obama’s Asia pivot has leaned heavily on military cooperation. His administration has focused on bolstering defense ties with countries throughout the region and expanding the U.S. naval presence there. As a result, the achievements of the pivot thus far have been primarily military in nature.
Notably, under the banner of the pivot, the Obama administration struck a 25-year long deal for U.S. Marines to rotate through Australia, as well as an agreement that the Philippines will provide the U.S. military with increased access to some of its bases. But, Obama’s trip to Asia presents the chance for the administration to round out its approach to the pivot by refocusing on the diplomatic and economic elements of the strategy.
So this trip will offer Obama the opportunity to drive home his “pivot to Asia” policy, which was initiated by his administration in 2011. Negotiators hope to make progress on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact, which has bogged down in disputes over agriculture and intellectual property between U.S and China. Clearly, there is much at stake. If Obama can use this trip to balance his Asia pivot, Obama can score a number of economic and cooperation in key areas like securityand as well as human-rights legacy achievements.
However, if he fails to do so, he risks creating a legacy of the U.S. acting reactively to opportunities and challenges in the Asia-Pacific, while failing to proactively define its strategy for the region.The reason for this failure is simple: the West has allowed short-term tactical concerns to impede the development of a long-term strategic vision. Strategy forms a different axis of action, accounting for the structure of global interdependence and thus how individual changes may affect the entire system. Only by moving to this axis of strategy can we achieve the world we want: one that is habitable, stable, free, and prosperous.