Listen Up! What the world thinks of 'America’s Pacific Century’
November 18th, 2011
03:27 PM ET

Listen Up! What the world thinks of 'America’s Pacific Century’

Editor's Note: Every week, the Global Public Square brings you some must-read editorials from around the world addressed to America and Americans. The series is called Listen up, America!

President Obama is focused on East Asia and the Pacific this week. After attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hawaii last weekend, Obama traveled to Australia where, on Thursday, he addressed the parliament. His message: "In the Asia Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in."

Later that day, President Obama traveled to the city of Darwin along the northern coast, where the U.S. announced it will station 2,500 Marines. The summit and travel, which also include a stop in Indonesia, are seen as the U.S. shifting attention to the Pacific - and to a rising China - as troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are some of the international responses to what Secretary of State Clinton recently dubbed "America's Pacific Century."

Australia – “Despite the rising economic, diplomatic and military reach of China, U.S. supremacy is the bedrock of security in the region,” says an editorial in the Sydney-based Australian.

“[The United States] underwrites the security of South Korea and Japan, it quells the tensions across the Taiwan Straits, it keeps the seaways open, bolsters the counter-terrorism operations of countries such as Indonesia, and even, in a less direct fashion, has added ballast to Australia's life-saving interventions in East Timor and the Solomon Islands. And when natural disasters, such as the Boxing Day tsunami strike, the region looks automatically to Washington, not Beijing, for assistance.”

Indonesia – NIMBY, or “not in my backyard,” says an editorial in the Jakarta Post of stationing U.S. troops in northern Australia.

“The presence of the U.S. base just south of Indonesia is simply too close for comfort. … there are many fruitful and less threatening ways of increasing U.S. engagement other than building a greater military presence.”

China – “Is there any country in the region that wants the United States to be its leader?” asks Wei Jianhua in China’s state-run Xinhua news. The provided answer: "No."

“It's hard to envision what kind of 'leadership' the United States aspires to have in the region. What the region really needs - right now - is a strong and reliable partner that can help the region stave off the current financial crisis and seek balanced and sustained growth."

Japan – “Tokyo and Washington are concerned about how to respond to Beijing,” says an editorial in the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbun.

“China has been rapidly enhancing its influence and becoming more assertive, increasing frictions with other countries in the South China Sea. To lead China in the direction of complying with international rules and working together with its neighbors in the medium and long term, Japan and the United States must closely cooperate with South Korea, Australia and Southeast Asian countries.”

Saudi Arabia — “Really?” asks an editorial in the Jeddah-based Arab News of President Obama saying the Pacific is the top priority.

“The Asia Pacific region is more important than the Middle East with all its crises? More important than solving the Palestinian-Israeli issue? More important than famine and political instability in the Horn of Africa and the dangers of it becoming a hub of international terrorism? More important than the nuclear ambitions that the U.S. is convinced Iran harbors?”

Australia – A Sydney Morning Herald editorial says stationing U.S. Marines in Australia is “a significant turn in the direction of Australia's foreign policy.” While Australia “had been negotiating a potentially tricky course part-way between” the U.S. and China, the “helm has now been turned decisively to one side.”

“Australia would have had much to gain from keeping to its middle course between two great powers. Having taken sides early, though, we have taken a risk. We will find out in coming years how much was at stake in that premature decision.”

China— “Americans should realize that neither side would win in a trade war and must prevent the Obama administration from taking any rash decision,” writes Deng Yuwen in the China Daily. President Obama, the U.S. Congress and Republican Presidential candidates have in recent weeks sought to pressure China over its currency policy, claiming the yuan is undervalued.

“Many of the goods China exports to the U.S. are inexpensive daily necessities and favored by Americans because of their low prices. Therefore, if the yuan's value increases by 30 percent, the majority of Americans' cost of living could go up by a similar percentage."

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Topics: Asia • Australia • China • Listen up!

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. David

    Obama is leading the US down the wrong path when he cannot solve the US financial problem and reduce the unemployment in the large. He is worst than G.W. Bush who led the US into two wars and created more than $1.5 trillon debt. At least the unemployment rate is not that high during the Bush years.

    November 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Reply
    • mark o. david

      U.S. credibility was not high either during the Shrub years.Amazing how americans will elect a 1% er represent theit interests.What fools

      December 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  2. Onesmallvoice

    Unfortunately, the right-wing thugs in Washington are trying to becoma even more dominant in the Pacific than ever before. This goes to show their unlimited greed for power as although they can't run this country very well, they want to run everybody else's!!!

    November 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Actually most countries in Pacific Asia don't mind the U.S. presence. It's understandable that China resents it, as the U.S. presence works like a wedge against it's spread of influence in the region. Indonesia doesn't seem to appreciate an American base. in Australia, as it is a nation with the world's most populous Muslim-majority, with 86.1% of Indonesians being Muslims.

      November 19, 2011 at 6:06 am | Reply
  3. RedWhiteBlue

    Obama in Oz. That has a nice ring to it. Or is it Obama AS Oz?

    The grandstanding has to be backed with real strength. Obama as Oz is an apt description, as in the guy sitting and bellowing in his deep voice behind the emerald green curtain.

    America is too emasculated by the banksters' debacle in 2008, yet too full of hubris to ask for help from China. Instead President BO blusters and resorts to military threats (the American solution for everything) in lieu of using principled diplomacy.

    November 18, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Reply
  4. David

    I am sure not going to vote for Obama Hussin next year.

    November 18, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  5. That'snottrue:[

    Well ,now you can see, not a lot of countries even want such an aggressive country there. Prending to be the leader.
    Note to the big O (Not Oprah), at the very least solve your debt problem before meddling in another continent!!!

    November 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Reply
  6. Anon

    See folks.. if you want to push a bargain you also need a few levers to push on. If you want the big D Dragon to play fair on the currency issue, build leverage through other means.. perhaps by building a base in Darwin and perhaps by teaming up with Beijing's "old pals" in the South China sea. Otherwise, you really have nothing on China for them to listen to your "concerns".

    November 19, 2011 at 1:13 am | Reply
    • vokoyo

      釣魚島問題專家、香港中文大學亞太研究所研究員鄭海麟從釣魚台列嶼的歷史地位切入,直指釣魚島隸屬中國毫無疑義。他指出,中日兩國大量歷史文獻表明,最早發現、命名和使用釣魚台列嶼的是中國人,而不是琉球人或日本人。釣魚島列嶼並不屬於「舊琉球王朝的勢力所及範圍」,該列嶼在明朝便被納入中國海防及行政管制區域。

      一九五一年的《舊金山(三藩市)合約》根本沒有涉及釣魚台列嶼的主權問題。一九五二年美國託管當局將釣魚島列嶼劃入琉球列島地理境界的經緯度內,是極不適當和不合國際法的。因此,日本聲稱擁有該列嶼主權在國際法上不能成立。

      中國大陸學者近年來對釣魚島議題的研究下了很大工夫。清華大學當代國際關係研究院副院長劉江永教授指出,事實證明日本早在甲午戰爭前十年已知釣魚台列嶼屬於中國。

      日外務省當年編撰的《日本外交文書》第十八卷和第二十三卷中,對明治政府竊取釣魚島的決策過程有非常詳實的記載。換言之,釣魚台列嶼是日本乘甲午戰爭之機,未等簽署馬關條約而從中國竊取的。如今,日方稱其與馬關條約,即甲午戰爭無關,根本站不住腳。

      二戰後釣魚島問題懸而未決與美國介入密不可分。劉江永指出,一九七一年美國擅自決定將釣魚島的行政管轄權交給日本政府,遭到全球華人的強烈反對,掀起保釣浪潮,迫使美國迄今迄未承認日本擁有釣魚島的主權,而希望中日雙方和平協商解決。

      然而,二零一零年以來美國政府多次明確表示,釣魚島適用於美日安保條約第五條,「這是造成日本政府在釣魚島問題上有恃無恐採取強硬做法的重要外部因素」。

      事實上,東京法院曾經判定釣魚島屬於台北州。台灣光復前一年,台灣與琉球為釣魚島發生歸屬權之爭,當時該法院將釣魚台列嶼判決為台北州所有,更加證明釣魚島主權屬台灣。

      此外,中國大陸學者、上海社會科學研究院法學研究所副研究員、海洋法研究中心主任金永明,上海國際問題研究院學術委員會副主任、上海市日本學會會長吳寄南等,也發表論文,探索釣魚島的國際地位,力證釣魚島主權屬中華民族。

      台灣師範大學東亞系助理教授林賢參則從戰略意涵分析釣魚島問題的本質。他說,中國大陸追求成為「海洋強國」,企圖掌控西太平洋海域之制海權,會壓縮日本防衛之戰略縱深;政治大學亞太研究所副研究員李瓊莉,也提出國際經驗的比較。

      政大外交系教授趙國材說,釣魚台列嶼問題迄今無解,指出釣魚島問題不論從歷史地位或法律地位探討皆無意義,因為國際政治乃強權政治,關於釣魚島主權誰屬是老大哥美國說了算。

      趙國材又表示,台灣願意依聯合國憲章及國際法和平解決國際爭端的規範,從主權、戰略位置、海洋權益與維護資源等面向,以確保釣魚台列嶼領土主權完整,與日本談判,並保護台灣漁民權益。唯日方無意願與台灣談判主權問題,只願和台灣談判漁權,想透過台灣獲得漁權用來騙取釣魚台列嶼的主權。但保釣出身的總統馬英九並未上當,既要漁權也要主權。

      台灣有人主張拉攏美國介入東海爭端,使日本、中國大陸、台灣、美國形成四方機制,能更有效解決釣魚台列嶼主權問題,並提升台灣之國際地位。趙國材認為,這種做法可能會引狼入室,不見得對台灣有利,因為美日在外交上皆承認北京,與台灣沒有邦交,且釣魚台列嶼附近之海域處於防衛美國本土的第一島鏈上,可能牽動東北亞安全情勢和美日的戰略布局,美國在釣魚台列嶼問題上一向表態中立,骨子裏其實偏袒日本。

      台灣政治大學國際法學研究中心研究員邵漢儀首次全部全文公開日方釣魚島的新史料,掀起高潮。邵的父親邵玉銘當年留美時亦曾參與保釣運動,如今父子兩代同台參與釣魚島會議,傳為佳話。

      日本外務省於一九七一年提出的《我國關於尖閣諸島領有權的基本見解》聲稱﹕「自一八八五年以來,日本政府通過沖繩縣當局等途徑再三在尖閣諸島進行實地調查,慎重確認尖閣諸島不僅為無人島,而且沒有受清朝統治的痕跡。在此基礎上,於一八九五年一月二十一日,在內閣會議上決定在島上建立標樁,以正式列入我國領土之內。」

      為了調查日方說法的真相,邵漢儀曾親往日本查閱相關原件,包括仍未公開的明治時期史料。他從日本外務省外交史料館、防衛省防衛研究所圖書館,以及國立公文書館尋得近四十件原件,首次全部公開。他歷時兩年餘發現明治政府從未派員至釣魚島進行實地調查,所謂「再三」調查純屬捏造。

      韓國外國語大學教授黃載皓認為,今年三月中國發表國防白皮書,確立戰略目標是國家現代化、力主防禦性國防、與他國建立軍事互信,他懷疑中日會爆發大戰,也不認為日本會放棄二戰後的現代化貿然掀起戰端。不過,另一位韓國學者國家安保戰略研究院研究員朴炳光指出,韓日兩國近年提出擴大交流合作關係的「新時代」理念,但對於韓國,獨島攸關經濟及軍事戰略國家利益,不可能讓步。

      November 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  7. Cantmakethisup

    Let me see: The greedy American Capitalists gave away our factories, jobs, tecnology to China while stuffing their pockets. They downgraded the American Dream for the 99%, now they will use what is left of the US Treasury to protect their hill gotten gains. I still remember a time when there was hardly any imports and everybody had a job.
    We wrongly blame the Chinese people for our problems. We should blame our Government for not protecting us.
    Let's use another 400-500 billions of dollars to protect ourselves from the Chineses. Use that money to protect us from the internal greed that is slowly downgrading us to live in a 3rd World Nation.

    November 19, 2011 at 9:47 am | Reply
    • Onesmallvoice

      Thank you, Cantmakethisup. That was very well put and quite true, too.

      November 19, 2011 at 10:37 am | Reply
  8. Joe

    The U.S. does not belong to the East Asia (unless I was taught wrong in schools). It is strange to include the U.S. into the "East Asia" summit.

    The U.S. is in Asia only for two purposes: 1) To stir up conflicts and tensions in East Asia to slow down the East Asia's economic growth so that the U.S. can pull itself out of the economic slump; 2) From the stirred-up conflicts between the Philippines & Vietnam against China, the U.S. can sell more arms to ASEAN and to find a perfect excuse to sanction China (again for the U.S. own selfish benefits).

    The U.S. is an opportunist. It is not an Asia country. It is there only to make profits at the expenses of the East Asians. Once Asia (especially China) is in ruin (due to the U.S. war machine), the U.S. will leave Asia and become an Atlantic nation again. The U.S. has messed up the lives of middle eastern and Africa; it is doing it again to the Asians. The U.S. is a true shameless opportunist and a real world murder that exploits the pretext of "freedom", "democracy"!!!

    November 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  9. Mahavir

    Some GPS IDEAS...

    Small device with LED display can be hanged in
    the wall which showing the GPS position of
    current place. GPS values can be attached
    along with the address in visiting card.

    November 20, 2011 at 4:51 am | Reply
  10. Michelle G

    Why would we send troops into an area where we have no wars or military conflicts? Unless we are planning to start one.

    November 20, 2011 at 8:58 am | Reply
    • That'snottrue:[

      LOL, so true... unfortunately...

      November 20, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  11. Bobo

    More jobs will move to Pacific.

    November 20, 2011 at 11:46 am | Reply
  12. Mary

    I find it fascinating that we're turning our attention from the Middle East while we still have close to 100,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. We should be focusing on wrapping up the two costly and needless wars, and think twice before taking aggressive steps that could provoke another one.

    November 20, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Reply

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