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Washington wants to strengthen co-operative ties with Beijing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2012, 12:00am

Neoconservatism has haunted American politicians since the ill-fated invasions by the US of Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, the argument by Lanxin Xiang ('US belief of American supremacy endangers its relations with China', March 23), that the Obama administration seeks a new conflict with China with its 'pivot' towards Asia is false.

US President Barack Obama has been criticised as having neoconservative leanings, both in his Middle East policy and his China policy.

American officials have not taken purely hostile lines towards China. Obama has met President Hu Jintao 10 times.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has met State Councillor Dai Bingguo several times, holding informal meetings that lasted for hours.

These actions show that, while America views China's rise with concern, its response is based on attempts to strengthen co-operative ties with Beijing.

While American ties to China's neighbours have also been reinforced, this is not an assertion of American hegemony in East Asia.

US relations with Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar and the Philippines have been buttressed due to concerns by those countries about China's rise.

Chinese behaviour with regard to the disputed areas of the South China Sea and Southeast Asian investments have vindicated, in part, those concerns.

Furthermore, the American 'return to Asia' merely codifies and publicises a shift in American thinking that has been under way for years.

Since the end of the cold war, US diplomats have been talking about the growing significance of Asia.

While America promotes Western values, such as human rights, in Asia, this is not indicative of a particular focus in that regard on Asia or China.

America also promotes democracy and human rights in Africa and the Middle East.

The Obama administration's intervention in Libya against the authoritarian Gaddafi regime is one example of this. Another is the promotion of human rights in Afghanistan and Iraq.

While China views increasing US interest in Asian affairs as an unwelcome new factor in Chinese regional policy, an overstatement of American hostility towards China will only contribute to a worsening of Sino-American relations.

Alfred Wong, Ho Man Tin


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