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LinkAsia | Jun 7
Chinese president Xi Jinping is meeting with US president Barack Obama this weekend in Rancho Mirage, California, in hopes that the two leaders can...
Welcome to this program. U.S. President Barack Obama's unveiled a new defense strategy, and the details, it expands the country's military presence in the Asia-Pacific region amidst new defense cuts.
The message was sent, strong and clear:
President Barack Obama:
We will be strengthening our presence in the Asia-Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of that critical region.
As the U.S. winds down two wars in the Middle East, the world's biggest military is taking another direction.
In a move made at his announcement during his trip to Australia last fall:
President Barack Obama:
The United States is a Pacific power. And we are here to stay.
During the visit, President Obama announced 2,500 military personnel will be stationed in Australia's northern territory by 2016, its first, long-term expansion of the American military presence in the Pacific since the end of the Vietnam War.
It's a series of moves by the U.S. to make its presence in the Pacific a top priority. Also last November, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario signed a declaration, calling for closer alliance between Washington and Manila, as Philippines is engaged with territory disputes with China over South China Sea.
The U.S. is also close to reaching an agreement with Singapore to base some of its navy ships there. Singapore sits on the southern edge of the South China Sea, and oversees the Strait of Malacca, one of the world's most vital shipping routes.
In the far east, South Korea and Japan are also playing major hosts to a U.S.-military presence. Over the past year, the U.S. has increased military maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean, sharing up alliances with two countries. As the U.S. reinvigorates defense ties with nations along China's perimeter - from traditional allies Japan and Philippines, to former foe Vietnam - many fear "Cold War-style" containment is looming.
Well, for a Chinese look at this, we're joined now on the phone by Sun Zhe. He's the head of the center for China-U.S. relations over at Tsinghua University. Professor Sun, thanks for joining this discussion.
Barack Obama says his new strategy is to get rid of what he describes as "an outdated Cold War system," but many say that's exactly what it is - it resembles a Cold War mentality. Which side of the fence do you sit on?
Professor Sun Zhe:
Yes, I agree with this attachment. I think he's trying to work out a new concept. I think the double slash in details - Some people here in China think that the United States is targeting China. I think we do have evidence because on the first hand, I think the United States ignored the legitimate need, request by the Chinese government. China needs more than the military. I think that's a legitimate requirement for China's growth.
Also, I think China is emphasizing the role of the military a lot in the Asia-Pacific region. So that's why we see trying in the Australian military base, and also trying to work with Japan, trying to work with other governments strengthening its military capabilities. I think most importantly, I think from last year, the United States' plan is different from this year's guidelines. Last year, the United States and China is at a critical turning point. Still, it won't take any position on the South China Sea if there is a sovereignty issue. But this year, I think President Obama, the American military, is trying to take more provocative actions from containing China, or usurping China, to send a clear message, a counter-attack China. So I think that's the dangerous thing with China.
Well, mainly we look at the overall plan. It's agreeing U.S. involvement over any pacific areas. In reality, how much is this going to affect China?
Professor Sun Zhe:
I think the spokesperson at the Pentagon and at State, they don't deny. Everybody know that it's targeting China, its specialty is China; it's the potential enemy. But the point is when China or Chinese government repeatedly tells the United States that, "Tell me a single case that China has prevented the United States from free navigation in the South China Sea. We'll listen to it, we'll solve the problem." So the United States doesn't have any evidence. So I guess China, facing such a pressure, China doesn't have any other choice but to take China's own version of hiding strategy - what I call to be a smart strategy to counter violence and the American pressure.