What caught my eye this week was an interesting twist in the story we all keep reading about – the rise of China. But, this time, it's not about China's growing power and confidence, but of a China that realized it might have overplayed its hand and is correcting itself. It all played out at a small conference in Singapore's fancy Shangri-La Hotel.
First, let's go back to 2010. Beijing had emerged relatively unscathed from the financial crisis. It had put on the greatest show on earth, the Beijing Olympics. Countries from around the world were courting it like never before.
And then, China's confidence turned into overconfidence, even arrogance. In quick succession, Beijing picked separate fights around the South China Seas with Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan. China angered South Korea by not condemning aggression from the North - from Pyongyang - which sunk a South Korean ship.
All these Asian countries have been relatively sanguine about the rise of China. Suddenly, they began to realize that it presented not just economic opportunities of big market for them but challenges, even threats. So they spoke out against what they saw as Chinese bullying and aggression and they became far more solicitous of America.
This could not have pleased China. This was not the peaceful rise strategy that Beijing have long talked about.
But Chinese officials said little about all this publicly, so no one knew if they believed they had overplayed their hand. After all, they could just as easily have taken the view that the world was envious and was ganging up on them and that they would just bide their time.
Which brings us back to that hotel in Singapore. Every year for the last 10 years the Shangri-La Dialogue is the place where defense representatives from 28 Asia-Pacific nations meet. For the first time ever, China sent its defense minister, General Liang Guanglie.
Liang repeatedly told his audience that China was a peace-loving country, with a defense policy that is purely defensive in nature. Liang focused on cooperation, peace and security.
The speech was a clear affirmation of the peaceful rise strategy that had also been affirmed by China's top foreign policy official. But to hear it from the military, which is far more hawkish, was something quite new.
China's neighbors were still nervous. At the same summit, the defense secretaries from the Philippines and Vietnam both said they were worried about maritime challenges from other countries. Of course, they meant China. And their words were bolstered by rare anti-China demonstrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Now, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also attended the Shangri-La Dialogue. The American speech was one of reassurance to China's neighbors. Gates focused on commitment, relationships and talk of a presence in the region.
So, China pushed too hard and then drew back.
The United States signaled to other Asian countries that it was not going anywhere.
The great game of Asian geopolitics has just begun.
I have a feeling we're all going to be watching these moves and countermoves for years to come.
Dear Fareed, we should nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize for your role in highlighting the problems that might cause peace problems in advance. It is good you are a pure-bred american, although you have indian roots, showing how america can cope or act on the world stage. In fact you are a more patriotic american than americans themselves.
As for China we hope it will be able to rise peacefully. It should realize that with economic success comes a responsibility of ensuring that all the countries in the world receive their due share of prosperity.
In the Spratly sea, there is no need for China to act so aggressively. It can convene a meeting of all the claimant states and agree to peacefully demarcate the waters. The oil/gas will not run away, we can bring together all the states under UN auspices and divide the sea waters amicably. China should receive the larger share, and the other states should receive their fair share as per their coastline.
China should have more friendly ties with india, tibet, taiwan, japan, south korea etc. It need not rush to help pakistan, a terrorist nuke state. Pakistan is a doomed state , it will fall and split into 4 or 5 countries. China will have to pay tremendous war damages if some of the chinese nuke bombs supplied to pakistan are allowed to detonate in the usa, europe etc. Think twice before supporting this talebani country.
Denzil, You must an Indian than an indian
Let the International Court of Justice in the Hague settle all these disputes. Meanwhile a transient caretaker should be appointed to manage the interests of the countries involved in the region.
Well said, Denzil
The share should according to the people of that country so everyone has a share, you canot give the same share to a small country and a big country as they can not reach to the other half of the nation.....God bless the World Citizens!!!
To me, you speak not like a clear-minded person who may be sober in thought. The south China sea has long been a part of China from the time long long ago which you perhaps don't have a single idea about. so it's not you to make a judgement about China's policy towards this region. In my opinion. any country which goes against the existing soverienty of China's territory will no doubt meet with failure in every aspect.
The international community supported Britain's war against Argentina over the Falkland Islands due to Britain's claim of first historical discovery. While the Falkland Islands are halfway around the world and next to Argentina's coastline, the world recognizes it as British because Britain discovered it first.
Similarly, China discovered the Paracel Islands 1,400 years ago. The Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, and other South China Sea islands have been indisputably Chinese for over a thousand years.
Well Kingkang, I will not pretend to compare Nazi Germany to China. However if history is to teach us something. Germany like Japan tought they could take over the world. I do hope for China and world peace that you do not have any influence on Chinese policies, since a world war will be the end of China's rise and a lot of unnecessary sufferings for the world including the Chinese people.
Do you know what "HUBRIS" means?
With rise of China economically and militarily, USA now have to play major role to see that China do not bully its neighbouring countries. We won second world war jointly, NATO was successful in defeating communism. Now, new challenge in front of the world is arrogant, not trust worthy China who wants to become a Superpower soon without understanding international peaceful relationships. China is backing terrorist state Pakistan, China is backing North Korea and Iran are indicatoin of there intention in world affairs.
RAJ: Are you for real? The U.S.'s responsibility to stop "bullying" by China? Which country has intervened, and often, overthrown or tried to overthrow, foreign governments in the last century? In the Caribbean, South America, Central America, the Middle East, the Far east? Not China, but America. Furthermore, despite its arrogant protestations, America is not a Far Eastern nation. If it feels that China is not acting appropriately with regard to its neighbors, let America file a protest in the UN. The Pax Americana, which hopefully, is coming to end, has been characterized by the U.S.'s meddling in the affairs of other nations. China would have to work extremely hard to match our record of bullying.
Vietnamese and Filipinos should stop encroaching on thousand-year-old Chinese territory in the South China Sea.
Source: Wikipedia article on Paracel Islands
"The coast belonged to the Kingdom of Cauchi China."
* There are some Chinese cultural relics in the Paracel islands dating from the Tang and Song dynasty eras[note 1], and there is some evidence of Chinese habitation on the islands in these periods.."
I admire people who use Wikipedia as their primary source. It's pretty clear they were using their heads.
You are incorrect. There are primary sources listed in the footnotes of the Wikipedia article on the Paracel Islands to substantiate the fact that there are Chinese artifacts and evidence of Chinese habitation on the Paracel Islands from 1,400 years ago.
China Lee is doing what chinese knows and do best, plagiarize and counterfeit, typical chinese.
China Lee: in response to your comment "Vietnamese and Filipinos should stop encroaching on thousand-year-old Chinese territory in the South China", perhaps China should return to India, what is India's. On that note Tibet should be returned to the Tibetans.
As the saying goes..."You reap what you sow".
worldwatcher: Then you suggest Hawaii return to Hawaii?
@ Dag - I think your question should be directed to ChinaLee, since as you are, I was commenting on his comment about returning annexed lands. If your response should be taken seriously, then the continent of North America should be returned to the Native Indians, Falkland Islands to Argentina and Australia to the aborigines.
And there is evidence of Greek habitation in Egypt. We aren't giving Alexandria "back" to Greece. What's your point?
Today's Era is very Different from the PAST..if china believes that it has existed during Tang and Song dynasty Why not Claim it before the existence of the Philippines and Vietnam..
I think that you are mistaken in this assumption in that given the history you quote other nations have come and gone in the region and it is the PRC that is using this as a pretext to try to expand their borders. Not only in the South China Sea, but in Central Asia, Mongolia, parts of India, and Siberia. What next is the PRC going to claim Korea because the Mongols controlled it once, or Vietnam, Laos or even Burma because a long time ago tribute was given to Chinese rulers. This is pure aggression with the PRC seeking to steal land and territory. Chinese nationalists are whipped up by the spin doctors in Beijing to play their part. Beijing may be picking too many fights with too many neighbours. The world is watching and hopefully China will be isolated and contained when America and Europe wake up and realize the threat of the PRC is just as great as Nazism and Communism were to all free societies. If China seeks aggression let it sooner than later.
And there are native American relics here. Doesn't mean we're giving the land back to them.
Hey China man,, don't you have enough land and sea to burry and drown all you Chinese ? Must you go around and rob your neighboring states ? We are all gonna die sooner or later.
You are like your name – dust. Your reply is based on your own assumptions. For your information, Over the last two decades, at time this country is gaining more strength and prosperity, China has settled (peacefully) land border disputes with all her central Asia neighbours and Vietnam. Is that what your evident of China robbing her neighbours?
To my knowledge "China" was geographical region. No other country called " China" a nation until 1911. My humble opinion is that Chinese people may claim that their ancestor had been south China sea, but that is not enough for China government a claim of their ownership. The government in mainland China was called Manchu court or Manchu throne before 20th century.
Falkland Islands issue is different from Spratly Issue. Argentina was not able to get the support of most countries for its claim to Falkland Islands because the islands are not within their 200 miles EEZ therefore the British historical claim was the one which was recognized. Argentina has no solid claim to Falkland, it cannot use EEZ rule or the UN Convention on the of the Sea and it cannot use historical claim. In the Spratlys, it is within the Philippines' 200 miles EEZ, therefore PH has a credible claim to some parts of the Spratlys (we are not claiming the whole of it). All UN members must respect UNCLOS. SO, you Chinese should be the people who should not be encroaching in the Philippine territory.
excuse me??? the Malayo people that also includes the Filipinos as a seafaring people has roamed these areas centuries before the Hans has settled in what is known today as the southern China and when this sea is not yet known as the South China Sea and when Tibet is still owned by the Tibetans. as history tells, Filipino marauders used to prowl these seas, occupied and settled in the areas up to the southern part of China including Taiwan that's why you can still find ethnic people of Malay origin from these places. Chinese only started to boldly and loudly claim these areas since the Americans pulled out from their bases in the Philippines. since when the Chinese patrolled these areas? they were nowhere to be found even during the Vietnam war, when the Americans were the dominant force in this part of the world. Chinese navy were not even present in the Tonkin gulf and even their own backyard Hongkong when it is still part of the British empire.
Filipinos are not asking any single American to fight in their behalf, we are only invoking assistance to upgrade assets as the Chinese knows they are superior that's why
they were very daring in bullying their inferior neighbors.
If Beijing is a blunder, what does that make me? When I get elected president, I will invite all my rich republican "blunders" to the white house where we can party with the poor people's money.
All very nice for us, the US, to continue to play the role of global sheriff but it is a VERY expensive role. We are in VERY deep trouble economically. The one and ONLY thing Trump said that was at all interesting was to suggest sending a bill to the Suadi's for our Libyan intervention. We are providing a worldwide service with no return, which may be debatable. Both sides, whether it is a service and whether there is no return. Soon there must be a reckoning.
One single shot fired at us from the chinese and we can wipe out our debts and all the junk bonds they bought from us. Hmmmmmm.....not a bad idea to be in the mix of things there.
Wow that is REALLY good thinking! You should seriously run for office. Our nation has become like a family with poor planing who can no longer even make min payments on their credit card debts, while still continuing to pull out the cards to shop. There is no alternative at this point other than declaring bankruptcy as a nation. All we need is an excuse to bug out on debt2 China.
RAJ just want to clear up a few things...firstly china is doing exactly what every super power has done in the past i.e. Flexing its muscles it probably flexed them at the wrong moment and with a large no of opponents at the same time but knowing china it will flex its muscles in future but with more finesse Secondly, what you wrote about Pakistan is exactly what nobody needs at this time you are creating hate and further enhancing the perceived enchantment of the pakistani people with india and the west yes there are terrorists in that country and they have supported them in the past but does that give you a reason to generalize everyone as a terrorist if I say every indian is a shiv sena thug and terrorist does that mean everyone is?No ofcourse not plus the reason that china rushed to help pakistan is to protect its own interests not pakistan's
*Writing* about China's support to Pakistan creates hate? Generalizing Pakistanis as terrorists? Why not talk about facts? (1) has China illegally occupied a third or so of Kashmir? (2) has China occupied Tibet and tortured tibetans? (3) has China supplied nuke technology (illegally) to Pakistan? (4) is terrorism a state policy of Pakistan? (5) how does Pakistan have the guts to oppose the US despite taking $30 billion in aid from it? (6) Has China aimed nukes at Indian cities from Tibet? (7) has china threatened war against Taiwan? (8) do terrorist leaders move freely in Pakistan under the protection of ISI (lookup Dawood Ibrahim (Mafia thug), Hafez Saeed (LeT Chief), Masood Azhar (JeM chief), etc etc).
Read up some history on Pakistan as a country and its history of terrorism and you will understand Raj's comments.
Please answer these questions or try to find the answers and then you will know what Raj was talking about.
Naren, You are such an innocent girl. You must raped by a Chinese, pity you, dear.
@Dag – Why Dag, does the truth hurt for you to make such an imbecilic comment. Why don't you act intelligent and answer Naren's questions?
Dag,have you no comments to add instead of typing vile words,you must have a dark heart...you muppet.
Mr. Zakaria, I 100% agree with you. I wrote about this issue myself back in September and again in January. China has overplayed its hand and is trying to regain the ground it lost in alienating its neighbors. The United States has stepped in to arbitrate some of these disputes and is seen as an alternative to Chinese influence in the region. China's actions are telling. Their real goal is likely regional dominance or hegemony.
My own thoughts and predictions on this subject can be read here:
Thank you for reaffirming my analysis.
One tiny question, how can American influence be a better alternative? Look at the Middle East........That's asking for wars in Asia........and why are you so scared of another country's rise? Bettering over a billion people's live's a good thing you know.......unless you think progress is only good when it happens and is for America or something..............
By the way pakistan is not a terrorest state!
hahaha,are u farkin kidding me?pakistan is a terrorist state,osama was caught there very close to your military barracks...he was very much at home with a wife and children living comfortable with him.
Now,am not a child please...dont tell me the pakistani goverment didnt know dearest departed osama was living well and good.
Al-Zawaki is either in pakistan,iran or somalia...farkin terrorist states
China is a welcome player in the worlds politics and economic future but do play the two faced bully game with the world your best hand should Be played with the west particularly the u.s. With out us your customer base gets cut way back and your security more at risk we are and will always be a super power and powerful trading partner you would be wise to side with the west always Iran,Pakistan,will fall north Korea will come around east Asian peoples understand international business and will want to progress and thrive and shutting out America is just not good for advancement .fareed you are an inspiration to all common sence people and your understanding of how countries and economies work is visionary I can't find anything I ever disagree with you on which is rare in today's world please keep up the good work at CNN
Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm....................the American government isn't planning on paying any of the 14 trillion debts with other countries, you know devaluing it and all. Why shouldn't other countries shut America out if it's playing this dirty? And oh yeah the America government's been doing this since the 1980s or something, devaluing or something with the currency that only benefitted America, look this up, I'm sure you'll be surprised.
your a dumb A$$, support america
@joe, swearing or name calling gets you no where, give me valid reasons to support the US and I'll sleep on it, brainwashed sheep, really just replying with that.....
It seems to me that American propaganda machines couldn't wait for a better time to call China being "aggressive", "assertive" and etc. Now the Vietnamese just launched a live ammunition military drill and the American medias are coming out in force and call China aggressive. What a great caricature! I should congratulate the Secretary of State Department, Hillary Clinton, for her successful visit to Vietnam last year. Within a year, Vietnam started unilaterally oil field surveys and military drills. Guess who is behind? I leave the answer to you. To both China and Vietnam, whoever of you subscribe to America's "goodwill and support", perhaps haven't seen enough from the middle east or central Asian, where the soils are blood soaked thanks to America's positive roles.
Oh......................how's it over played???? How can you even tell with ocean borders the water moves daily, and rename the South China sea to South Asian or something if you're so afraid. Every country there's trying to get more of the ocean space...not just China. If anything's America over playing "The rise of China" card, dear author, stop it with such articles, the ocean dispute is in Asia, America has no business there....until it makes it it's. See this is the problem, why can't there be more nutruel, I'm not even asking for positive views to these issues. West way =/= The world's way remember that, and stop scaring people with these articles, YOU'RE CREATING HATE AND FEAR........that's not what your preaching.....
Once again, America overstep it's bountries with out even knowing the history behind the disputes. DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!
You're already encroaching our breathing space. Haven't you had your fill of piracy, smuggling, drug trafficking, bootlegging? Democratic states have a history of fighting against communism and that's a fact. Your government cannot be trusted.
Zakaria and CNN: Please do not spill Blood.
One must also realize that China has been part of the geopolitical environment for some time. And as for its immediate neighbors within Asia, China has had relations with them for centuries. What is more interesting now is the fact that the mobility and concerns of security that are presented to the counrty in this global environment over the last century, have invariably thrust the country into the role of suitor for regional hegemon.
One should not be entirely offended, or at the very least not at all surprised. This is what countries do when the level of potential threats become more punctuated, even when they are not necessesarily more likely. While we belabor the causes and effects of our displacement of power throughout the Arab world since 1914, and what obsticles and threats we must contend with as a result of our relationships and inverventions in that part of the world, China, too, must consider the realities of having neighbors that are slowly trudging their way into the 1st world. These neighbors will, have in many ways, become serious competitors with them, already. And having neighbors that look to find shelter under the umbrella of what is obviously a regionally foreign power, would, no doubt, not only raise concerns of integrity, but those of suspicion, as well.
It is not likely that there will be a future, at least not for a very long time, where America will not militarily out arm the rest of the world. And while more rational minds may suggest to any nation that to try to compete with us on those terms is not only senseless, but possible lunacy, in the end 'any' nation cannot simply give up on the idea that the purpose of its military is to ensure, with force if needs be, the application of foreign and domestic policy. I would suggest that, as far as the Chinese are concerned and not necessarily as a rational imperical world view, for them to not flex their military muscle from time to time, would be akin to sending out the welcome wagon for any who wish to come and take advantage ot them. We must remember that our war for independance was more a political shift than warding off of foreign invasion. For the Chinese the ground was laid more simply. And I believe we can expect more of the same in the future. Zakaria is correct, the game has begun. But what we may see as blunder may be seen necessity by those who live within a region with perhaps an entirely different version of their role within the geopolitical theatre.
The Communist Party of China creates HATE AND FEAR everytime they tell the rest of Asia that everything belongs to them. For thousands of years!!!
................................Dude, look up China's history, if all you can focus on is China's one party system.....well America only have two parties, I'd say Canada's more democratic.
&&& You should know, that's what America did to Africa and now the Middle East, claiming it as their own and all
& You been brainwashed by the red scare......still???? I thought that was in the 50s........come to the present or go there, trust me just about any government system compared to the US right now is better......although I'm not sure about dictators, maybe they're at the same level?
China wanted to rule the world with their Communism culture.. China wanted to Conquer the entire West Philippines Sea.
For you chinese people. Dont Base your accusation that all lands belongs to china of its long civilization.. Past is Past.. Todays ERA is Different from the past.. You Chinese are not contented with your Giant Land yet you still want to expand your country.. Greediness is what makes your past and today's character.
Huh..............????????????? Why shouldn't history matter, "if you don't learn history, you're doomed to repeat it"...............and we're not talking about land here...........it's ummmm water, the borders and all that.
&&& Go to ESL, this is in broken english.
Seems like a lot of envy towards China in this article/comments. Apppears to be Indians/Hindustanis running scared and trying to create malice towards the Chinese. Obviously, Chinese are aware that these Indians have sold their soul to USA and have become their stooge and cleanup eunuch in the region in return for some handouts.... good press (CNN positions), security help from Israel, outdated nuclear/missile technology and some FDI (call center technicians trained to speak with a Texan accent!). Hence the Chinese are just trying to protect their interests. To even bring India into a discussion involving China is a travesty. China is lightyears ahead of the curve. The game has not begun....IT HAS ENDED. While NATO/USA was bombing, China was building.....and India has been caught with its pants down!!!!
@ RM....looks like you have lot of bad blood & bitterness in you the way you are illustrating about a country and how "less developed" it is vs. China.
The U.S. will not be in a position to do anything if it doesn't get its fiscal house in order. One does not have to be a geo-political strategic thinker to figure out what is going on here. The U.S. cannot continue to borrow money from China while at the same time try to contain China's global ambitions. China once thought itself the center of the world – it appears that thinking has returned.
I agree with you all but one point, look up the many dynasties of China, it was the center of the world for well.....like the US was......twenty years ago, but within the country there were ups and downs.
Can you answer this question for me though......why do westerners take the Chinese name of China and America so literial? yes China means Center earth, and America means beautiful country........but well......for America at least, the Mei is more to get the Chinese word to sound like the English/real name.......but few in China would take the name this way......to us it's just a name, yet soo many Americans take it so seriously?!
I's like me calling you King in english when you're name is Wang in Chinese, which depends on how I say it sounds like king......or forgetful, or longing..........or even a net....look it up.
What nonsense talk is this? America is named after Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer. Get your facts straight before you pretend to be smart here!
Uh, he's quoting the literal translation of China (Jong Guo) and America (Mei Guo)...
The ownership of the Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands is a settled issue. Vietnam’s Premier Pham Van Dong had agreed in a diplomatic document on September 14, 1958 that China owns the South China Sea islands and territory.
[Source: Vietnamese historian's research into Paracel Islands]
"Truong Nhan Tuan: Yes. The famous one is the diplomatic note of Pham Van Dong, written on 14/9/1958 which admits the territorial waters declared by China a few days before. The Chinese declaration was that the archipelagos of Hoang Sa [Paracel Islands], Nam Sa, and Truong Sa [Spratly Islands] belonged to China."
[Source: Biography of Vietnam Premier Pham Van Dong]
"Born March 1, 1906
Quang Ngai province, Vietnam
Premier of North Vietnam, 1955–75, and of the reunited Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 1975–86
Pham Van Dong served as the premier of North Vietnam both before and during the Vietnam War. He was recognized as one of three most powerful leaders of North Vietnam during these years, along with Ho Chi Minh (see entry) and General Vo Nguyen Giap (see entry). In fact, these three men were sometimes referred to as the "iron triangle."
The United States has been projecting it's military strength around the world now for more than 70 years in large part through the use of nuclear powered aircraft carrier battle groups. All of the money required to support that military power was directly subtracted from investments in education and infrastructure among other things back here in the US. Now China has built it's first large aircraft carrier and has plans to build maybe 15 more in the next 20 years! They do not do anything in a small way. So their proclamations of a peaceful intent may not be as benign as they seem.
China plan to build 15 aircraft carriers in 20 years? Where did you get their 'blue plan' ?
You are like many people in the west, assuming china must be like yourself when it become powerful. In case you are not familiar with China's history, this country had dominate economically 1800 years over last 2000 years. She did not colonize north america or africa in the past. There is no reason to believe it will do so in any future. BTW, China does not station a trop outside of its boarder except on a UN mission. You should stop scaring yourself.
There is unspoken assumption in article. If there is problem is China-US relation, must be China's fault. Regarding US/China military relationship, our military's tone is like this: we are going to sell offensive arm to Taiwan, and we are going to fly spy flights near your boarder. Get used to it and accept it. When China wants more wiggle room, then you are aggressive. When your general publicly confronted Gate, then it is arrogant. Time changed. In 1950's US fleet used to patrol 1 miles off China coast and China can do nothing about it. We need give them more room to wiggle or there will be conflict. We have to accept that. Does that threat our own safety. No.
Current China government formed after 1949. South China sea isn't their thousands years territory. Chinese people can only say " been there done that", but they certainly have no say over the ownership of south China sea. Because their ancestor had never set one resident on any of those island. There was no China government before 1911. China was a geographical region.
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The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
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