US Rep ques­tions US ‘pivot’ strat­egy

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

US Con­gress­woman Colleen Hanabusa be­lieves that there are a lot of unan­swered ques­tions in the US re­bal­ance strat­egy for the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion.

The Hawaii Demo­crat raised ques­tions about the goal of the re­bal­ance, what the US is go­ing to do there, the re­sources the US has, and what the US will do to en­sure eco­nomic growth, sta­bil­ity and deal with other chal­lenges.

“What is the strat­egy of this pivot, I am not sure that we have the an­swer for that,” Hanabusa told a sem­i­nar in Wash­ing­ton on Thurs­day on sus­tain­ing Amer­ica’s en­dur­ing role in the Asia Pa­cific.

Hanabusa, a mem­ber of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, pointed out the suc­cess of the pivot will come down to rec­og­niz­ing some­thing that the US is not ac­cus­tomed to do­ing, to rec­og­nize cul­tural dif­fer­ences and his­tory.

“We all know that the re­gion has great his­tor­i­cal dif­fer­ences, which may add to the dif­fi­cul­ties of the chal­lenge in the Asia Pa­cific,” she said.

Hanabusa be­lieves what the US needs is a sense of re­spect and un­der­stand­ing for the re­gion. In her view, not many Amer­i­cans un­der­stand China, given its long his­tory of many dy­nas­ties. “Pa­tience is a virtue that they have,” she said, adding that the US is not good in this re­gard.

Hanabusa, who is run­ning for a US Se­nate seat this year, does not sup­port fur­ther US mil­i­tary ex­pan­sion given the coun­try’s limited re­sources. She re­minded people that China is not like the US in terms of mil­i­tary pres­ence. “We are every­where. They are not every­where,” she said. “They are in a par­tic­u­lar re­gion within a re­gion, and we are not able to com­pre­hend that.”

Zbigniew Brzezin­ski, the for­mer US na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor and now a coun­selor and trustee at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, has re­peat­edly ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment at the use of words “pivot” and “re­bal­ance” and the overem­pha­sis on the mil­i­tary in Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s strat­egy. He be­lieves it has un­nec­es­sar­ily un­nerved the Chi­nese.

While many have re­cently ques­tioned the US com­mit­ment to its re­bal­ance strat­egy given the many hotspots around the world, Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry said on Thurs­day that the re­bal­ance is “not a pass­ing fancy.” “It’s not a mo­men­tary thing, and in fact it has grown,” he told Pa­cific Day sem­i­nar in Wash­ing­ton.

Yan Xue­tong, a Chi­nese for­eign pol­icy ex­pert at Ts­inghua Univer­sity in Bei­jing, be­lieves much of the re­cent ten­sion be­tween China and the US is due to China not be­ing a mem­ber of the Western club.

“It’s not what (HOW?) China be­haves, it’s whether China joins the club or not,” he said in Wash­ing­ton re­cently.

Hanabusa be­lieves that un­like the US which is a world power, China does not want a sim­i­lar role. “Do they want to do what we do, I don’t think they do,” she said.

She praised China’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Rim of the Pa­cific naval ex­er­cise as a good move for both sides.

Four Chi­nese ves­sels, a mis­sile de­stroyer, a mis­sile frigate, a sup­plier ship and a hospi­tal ship, are on their way to Hawaii via Guam to par­tic­i­pate for the first time in the world’s largest naval war games from June 26 to Aug 1.

Randy Forbes, a Repub­li­can Con­gress­man from Vir­ginia, said one im­por­tant thing he learned from many hear­ings and brief­ings is that the US can’t make its al­lies al­ways choose be­tween just the United States and China.

“If we do that, we will get into a bad sit­u­a­tion for them. We don’t need that. We need to find com­mon­al­ity,” he said.

Forbes sup­ports ex­pan­sion of the US navy and op­posed the budget se­ques­tra­tion. He be­lieves China is a com­peti­tor, not an ad­ver­sary, and that China is a mul­ti­fac­eted coun­try.

But he be­lieves the US should be able to talk to China frankly on is­sues. “The dan­ger is that we can’t even talk about that,” he said.

In China, the US re­bal­ance strat­egy has been viewed widely as a con­tain­ment pol­icy, but Hanabusa dis­missed that con­cern.

“I don’t think the United States can con­tain it, it’s too great a power,” she said. “I don’t think any­one can con­tain China… China is a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic force in the world; no one can con­tain it but China it­self.”.

Hanabusa be­lieves nei­ther China nor the US wants mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion with each other.

“So we are in a bet­ter po­si­tion that we all re­al­ize that the world is large enough for the great pow­ers. And great pow­ers must lead by

CHEN WEIHUA / CHINA DAILY

US Con­gress­woman Colleen Hanabusa, a Demo­crat from Hawaii, talks about how to sus­tain Amer­ica’s en­dur­ing role in the Asi­aPa­cific re­gion at CSIS in Wash­ing­ton on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

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