Is China a friend or an en­emy of the US? Maybe a ‘fren­emy’

The China Post - - COMMENTARY - BY SATOSHI OGAWA

“Fren­emy” is English slang for a per­son who pre­tends to be a friend but takes hos­tile ac­tions. It is made by blend­ing “friend” and “en­emy.”

The term was cited at a sym­po­sium held in July by the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies (CSIS) in Washington D.C. to de­scribe the cur­rent re­la­tions be­tween the United States and main­land China.

So far, ex­pres­sions such as “stake­hold­ers” and “re­la­tion­ship of com­pe­ti­tion and co­op­er­a­tion” have been used to de­scribe U.S.Chi­nese re­la­tions. But “fren­emy” ex­presses U.S. dis­trust of China stronger than these other terms, con­sid­er­ing that the coun­try is an en­emy in a way.

The con­text for such changes of ex­pres­sion no doubt in­cludes hege­monic acts by China, in­clud­ing its land recla­ma­tion projects to build ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands in the South China Sea.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment has said it had “can­did dis­cus­sions” with the Chi­nese side, on land recla­ma­tion in the South China Sea and cy­ber­at­tacks, at a meet­ing of the U.S.China Strate­gic and Eco­nomic Di­a­logue (S&ED) held in late June in Washington. U.S. rep­re­sen­ta­tives also said the United States did not agree with us­ing “new type of ma­jor coun­try re­la­tions” at this time, though the Chi­nese wanted to use the term and it was used in past doc­u­ments on the S&EDs un­til last year.

How­ever, it is still too early to think that U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion will adopt a dra­mat­i­cally tougher pol­icy to­ward China.

The U.S. and Chi­nese gov­ern­ments an­nounced an agree­ment to en­hance strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion on 127 out­comes of the S&ED.

“The United States of Amer­ica is not only well po­si­tioned to thrive, but to con­trib­ute to the eco­nomic growth of the en­tire world,” U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den stressed in a speech made in the same week when the S&ED was held. “And the sin­gle most im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship for that is China.”

This speech hints at the in­ten­tion of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to main­tain con­struc­tive re­la­tions with Bei­jing to make main­land Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping’s visit to the United States in Septem­ber a suc­cess.

The suc­cess of Xi’s visit to the United States must be es­sen­tial for Bei­jing, too. How­ever, shortly af­ter the latest S&ED, China be­gan new oil drilling at a lo­ca­tion close to Viet­nam in the South China Sea. A Chi­nese ship also rammed a Viet­namese fish­ing boat op­er­at­ing in nearby wa­ters, sink­ing them.

“I think the Chi­nese have de- ter­mined that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is not likely to chal­lenge China in the South China Sea, as long as China doesn’t use mil­i­tary force,” said Bon­nie Glaser, se­nior ad­viser for Asia and China ex­pert at CSIS.

“I think that this (Xi’s tougher diplo­matic stance) is driven in part by ca­pa­bil­i­ties and power, and in part by the per­cep­tion that the U.S. needs China’s co­op­er­a­tion more than it has in the past,” she con­tin­ued. “For many years, the Chi­nese said, ‘China needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs China.’ I think that changed in about 2009, the on­set of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.”

If her anal­y­sis is cor­rect, Bei­jing is tak­ing un­fair ad­van­tage of the United States. Its acts in the South China Sea seem to be forc­ing the United States to ac­cept a new type of ma­jor- coun­try re­la­tions as­serted by China.

Obama wel­comed Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe like a true friend when he vis­ited Washington at the end of April. Is Obama go­ing to treat Xi, who is sched­uled to visit the United States in Septem­ber, as a close friend or a busi­ness part­ner? Or is he go­ing to as­sume a harsh at­ti­tude with the Chi­nese leader, treat­ing him like a trou­ble­maker try­ing to change the sta­tus quo in Asia with force? Friends of the United States in Asia are watch­ing closely.

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