China’s Near Term Strategic OpportunitiesAugust 8, 2012
Yuan Peng is the director of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. In a recent piece published on teh CICIR website, he provides an insight into Chinese thinking on its own strategic opportunities as Western nations struggle to revitalize their economies in the continuing financial crisis. Although the CICIR website offers an English language version, Yuan’s piece is not presented in English. Fortunately, China/US Focus has translated and published it on their own website. Yuan’s main strategic concern is what he sees as a US attempt at containment of China:
A look at China’s peripheral environment produces a more positive view. In the north, China-Russia relations are at their highest in history, and so is the Cross-Straits relations in China’s southeast. In the northwest, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has continued to expand externally while enjoying in-depth development internally. In the northeast, China’s economic and trade cooperation with Japan and South Korea has kept gaining momentum and development potential. All these make it fairly difficult for the United States to weave a net to contain China.
The main point of concern, then, is in the South China Sea, where Yuan believes the US is attempting to create an alliance against Chinese interests, which China must counter:
How about the South China Sea issue, then? Tension is growing there, as countries like Vietnam and the Philippines are time and again going beyond the bottom line for provocations, and the United States is voicing its support for their claims. China’s marine sovereignty is seriously challenged, indeed. Viewed from a broader perspective, however, at least three important backgrounds must be considered. First, China has basically settled its land border disputes with nearly all our neighbors and can now shift its focus to the settlement of the South China Sea issue. Second, the situation across the Taiwan Straits has remained stable. And third, China’s marine strength has kept growing, a condition needed for China to concentrate on the present challenges. . . . In other words, for the first time China has acquired the national capacity and will squarely address the South China Sea issue. This is the inevitable outcome of the development of China’s national strength, interest and strategic development, as well as a natural demand and important mission for it to fulfill throughout the next-stage of China’s development. As a matter of fact, this stage has already started, as evidenced by the establishment of the Sansha City, the acceleration of efforts in marine law enforcement, and the growing awareness of marine rights protection among all the Chinese people. What China needs to do now is to deal with these issues from the overall perspective of its development, be determined and patient, well plan the tempo of its efforts, and refrain from rushing into action simply because of a change in its external environments.