With President Obama in India right now as part of his first official Asian trip, the focus is on whether or not he will be able to carry out a planned visit to Indonesia. But conspicuously absent in the high profile Asia tour is China, which was not a planned stop off.
But this is no accident, rather it is a function of a US-China relationship that is increasingly tense, with both sides seeing a number of minor slights and policy differences snowballing into major distrust.
US anger over Chinese trade policy has been a serious driving force on the American side, though there is also the endless stream of over-dramatic policy papers warning of China’s increased military spending (which is still dwarfed by the US own military spending).
China, meanwhile, sees US pressure over its currency as unwelcome meddling, and sees Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama as de facto support for a separatist movement. One can only assume the administration’s Asia trip, and its lack of a Chinese stop-off, will be yet another source of concern.
In the end the growing tensions are not about anything in particular, but are also about everything in general. Both nations view the outside world in very different ways, and while the US is forever waiting on China to develop a taste for overseas adventurism they look askance as the Chinese government allows seemingly minor diplomatic slights with Japan to snowball into major crises, complete with vigorous public protests.
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