Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s most recent diplomatic trip to China was met with friction and disagreement from a Chinese government responding negatively to being bullied in its own back yard by an aggressive and militaristic United States bent on containing China’s rise.
Clinton’s visit, reports the Washington Post, “began with vicious personal attacks against her in the government-run media and continued with sharp disagreements with China’s top leaders. Then Clinton was mysteriously stood up by the future leader of the country,” an unusually stark move by typically reserved Chinese leaders.
“The visit finished Wednesday in dramatic fashion,” the Post continues, with “an announcement from the Chinese government two hours before Clinton’s departure that a former police official who had sought sanctuary at a U.S. consulate months earlier and triggered a still-roiling political scandal was being charged with defection and other crimes in what appeared to many analysts like a stick in the eye aimed at the United States.”
This was very much expected. The Obama administration’s so-called strategic pivot to Asia Pacific, which involves surging American military presence throughout the region with the aim of containing China, has been slowly provoking negative reactions across official China.
Washington has further antagonized China by beefing up its military relationships with China’s regional competitors and backing them all up in their territorial disputes with China over the resource rich South China Seas.
Washington has also been building new military bases and refurbishing old ones in the region in order to lay the ground-work for an “air-sea battle” with China. The idea is to have enough US bases peppered throughout the region so that China would be too surrounded to safely attack.
China hasn’t done anything to harm US security. Washington just doesn’t want to cede power, in any part of the globe, to any other nation.
A recent report from the CSIS predicted that next year “could see a shift in Chinese foreign policy based on the new leadership’s judgment that it must respond to a US strategy that seeks to prevent China’s reemergence as a great power.”
“Signs of a potential harsh reaction are already detectable,” the report said. “The US Asia pivot has triggered an outpouring of anti-American sentiment in China that will increase pressure on China’s incoming leadership to stand up to the United States. Nationalistic voices are calling for military countermeasures to the bolstering of America’s military posture in the region and the new US defense strategic guidelines.”
“Our two nations are trying to do something that has never been done in history,” Clinton said in a press briefing with the Chinese Premier, “which is to write a new answer to the question of what happens when an established power and a rising power meet.”
One possible option is to not approach that “meeting” with military belligerence and arrogance. Perhaps that didn’t occur to Mrs. Clinton.
“Generally speaking, our relationship has been moving forward, but recently I am more or less worried,” Premier Wen Jiabao told Clinton in a slow, measured voice, deviating from the usual empty pleasantries of official Chinese meetings. “I feel that our two countries should maintain political mutual respect and strategic mutual trust. The United States should respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“This is the new normal,” one senior official travelling with Clinton told the Associated Press. “I think we have to be prepared for more tensions on these matters.”