US should adapt to changed geopol­i­tics in Asia

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

Pres­i­den­tXi Jin­ping on Wed­nes­day held phone talks with hisUS coun­ter­part Barack Obama and ac­cepted the lat­ter’s in­vi­ta­tion to pay a state visit to the United States in Septem­ber. Last weekUSNa­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Su­san Rice an­nounced that theUS in­vited Pres­i­den­tXi Jin­ping to visit theUnited States this year. She also said that Ja­panese PrimeMin­is­ter Shinzo Abe, SouthKorean Pres­i­dent ParkGeun-hye, and In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo, too, would visit theUS this year.

Byinvit­ing the lead­ers of four Asian coun­tries to theUS in the sameyear, Pres­i­dent Barack­Obama seems to be­makinga last ditch ef­fort to­ward theendof his eight years in of­fice tomake his hope­less “pivot to Asia” strat­egy a last­ing le­gacy of his pres­i­dency.

This year marks the 70th an­niver­sary of the end ofWorldWar II and the found­ing of theUnited Na­tions. At the end ofWorldWar II, Ja­pan was dev­as­tated but only af­ter wreak­ing havoc across many coun­tries in Asia and theUS emerged as the dom­i­nant power in the re­gion as well as the rest of the world by us­ing theUN, the In­ter­na­tion­alMone­tary Fund and the­World Bank as in­stru­ments to pro­mote its na­tional in­ter­ests. That be­came pos­si­ble partly be­cause theUS ac­counted for 50 per­cent of the global GDP and con­trolled 75 per­cent of the world’s gold at the same time. Also, given its fi­nan­cial power, the US could af­ford to build bases across Asia and the world.

Re­cov­er­ing from the ru­ins of WorldWar II, Ja­pan rose to be­come the sec­ond-largest econ­omy in the world, a po­si­tion it had to yield to China be­cause of China’sme­te­oric eco­nomic rise since the early 1980s. The rise of China, for­merly known as the “sick man of Asia”, and its more than $3 tril­lion of for­eign ex­change re­serves have changed many eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal equa­tions in the world.

World Bank cal­cu­la­tions even show that the Chi­nese econ­omy has sur­passed that of theUS in terms of pur­chase power par­ity. Although the cal­cu­la­tions are not ac­cepted by China, it in­di­cates China’s grow­ing eco­nomic might.

In the po­lit­i­cal arena, China is play­ing an in­creas­ingly greater role in main­tain­ing world peace. It is in this geopo­lit­i­cal con­text that Obama launched his “pivot to Asia” (or re­bal­anc­ing to Asia) strat­egy. But so far, the strat­egy has been ben­e­fi­cial to nei­ther the US nor the Asian coun­tries it was meant to help.

TheUS’ tacit sup­port to Ja­pan for “na­tion­al­iz­ing” the Diaoyu Is­lands in the East China Sea raised ten­sions be­tween China and Ja­pan. TheUS sup­port to the Philip­pines and Viet­nam to dis­pute China’s ter­ri­to­rial claims in the South China Sea too has cre­ated ten­sions.

Amid th­ese sce­nar­ios, Xi’s visit to theUS will be a great op­por­tu­nity for the lead­ers of the two coun­tries to can­didly dis­cuss the fu­ture course of Asia and the world. But more im­por­tantly, it’s time theUS adapted to the changed geopol­i­tics in Asia and re­al­ized that un­like 70 years ago, it no longer holds the key to the global econ­omy. It should also re­al­ize that all the re­bal­anc­ing to Asia has to be led by the re­gion’s coun­tries and their peo­ples in or­der to se­cure their fu­ture and en­sure their se­cu­rity. The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor atWar­renWil­son Col­lege and guest pro­fes­sor atHe­bei Uni­ver­sity.

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