How China, Rus­sia can counter THAAD threat

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS -

The United States is busy pre­par­ing to de­ploy the Ter­mi­nalHigh-Al­ti­tude Area De­fense sys­tem in the Repub­lic of Korea ig­nor­ing the strong protests by China and Rus­sia, which jus­ti­fi­ably say it will pose a strate­gic threat to their se­cu­rity. And the US-led NATO is con­sol­i­dat­ing its pres­ence in Eastern Europe. What are the mo­tives be­hind th­ese chess­board moves?

At the turn of the new­cen­tury, the US be­gan its largest strate­gic ad­just­ment since the end of the ColdWar, shift­ing its strate­gic fo­cus from Europe and the At­lantic to the Asia-Pa­cific. Right after Ge­orgeW. Bush took of­fice as US pres­i­dent, his ad­min­is­tra­tion made the de­ci­sion to change the over­sea de­ploy­ment pat­tern of the US mil­i­tary, from the pre­vi­ous 60 per­cent for Europe and 40 per­cent for the Asia-Pa­cific to 50 per­cent each for the two re­gions. It also listed China as a ma­jor com­peti­tor for the first time. The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion failed to make the strate­gic ad­just­ment only be­cause of the Sept 11, 2001, at­tacks and the “war on ter­ror” that fol­lowed.

Ever since Pres­i­dent Barack Obama en­tered the White­House he has been de­ter­mined to ad­vance the “pivot to Asia” strat­egy to over­come the “threat” China’s rise poses to the US’ hege­mony in theWest­ern Pa­cific. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s strate­gic push has con­tin­ued un­in­ter­rupted de­spite the po­lit­i­cal tur­bu­lence in theMid­dle East, the Ukraine cri­sis and the rise of the Is­lamic State. NATO’s east­ward ex­pan­sion and “pivot to Asia” both are the re­sult of the change in the es­tab­lished in­ter­na­tional or­der and the US’ al­tered strate­gic per­cep­tion, and they re­flect the change in its strate­gic fo­cus at dif­fer­ent times.

Some White­House of­fi­cials be­lieve US-Rus­sia re­la­tions are not par­al­lel to US-China ties, be­cause they viewa power game be­tween the US and Rus­sia as one be­tween “a su­per­power and a power” but find it dif­fi­cult to de­fine any game be­tween Bei­jing andWash­ing­ton. Given this fact, the US-led east­ward ex­pan­sion of NATO is sec­ondary in im­por­tance to the “pivot to Asia” strat­egy. Ac­cord­ing to some in the US, the “pivot to Asia” is a strate­gic de­sign rel­e­vant to the US’ over­all devel­op­ment, while the plan for Rus­sia’s con­tain­ment in Europe is a kind of tac­ti­cal move.

In the con­text of “pivot to Asia”, theUS has in­ten­si­fied its ef­forts to unite its al­lies in Asia in or­der to forge an Asian ver­sion ofNATO.

Com­pared to the im­pact of NATO’s east­ward ex­pan­sion on Rus­sia, the “pivot to Asia” strat­egy will cre­ate more strate­gic pres­sures on China. Though China and Rus­sia don’t want a con­fronta­tion with the US and will not forge a for­mal al­liance, they have been forced to stand closer to cope with the strate­gic squeeze ap­plied by the US and its al­lies.

China’s top strate­gic pri­or­ity is to ease the huge se­cu­rity pres­sures and meet the chal­lenges cre­ated by theUS’ strate­gic shift to the Asia-Pa­cific. Since the Asia-Pa­cific is a re­gion theUS will pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to, it is ex­pected to fo­cus its en­ergy and re­sources on it to check China’s rise after putting con­tin­u­ous pres­sure on Rus­sia.

To deal with the US’ strate­gic squeeze, China and Rus­sia should in­ten­sify their co­op­er­a­tion in North­east Asia, a re­gion eas­ier for them to work to­gether com­pared with ar­eas like the South China Sea. As a start, they should take nec­es­sary mea­sures to counter the threat posed by THAAD’s de­ploy­ment in the ROK be­cause theWash­ing­ton-Seoul move will break the del­i­cate strate­gic bal­ance on the Korean Penin­sula.

More­over, while re­it­er­at­ing its strong re­sis­tance to THAAD, the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea should aban­don its nu­clear pro­gram and stop test­ing mis­siles in or­der to pre­vent the US and the ROK from us­ing those as an ex­cuse to ex­pe­dite the de­ploy­ment of THAAD. The au­thor is an as­sis­tant re­search fel­low at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Strat­egy, Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.


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