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The China Times, Taiwan

Obama’s Inaugural Speech: the
Future of US-China Relations

China and the U.S. will maintain a dynamic equilibrium.

Translated By Nathan Hsu

24 January 2013

Edited by Kath­leen Weinberger

Taiwan - The China Times - Original Article (Chinese)

We can see from Obama's speech and the personnel he has put in place that the U.S. will no longer play a leading role on the international stage, and that the core of U.S. policy will be on the economy and environmental protection. Under the circumstances, it will have an even greater need for cooperation with China. On the issue of the Diaoyu Islands, the U.S. cannot be wholly biased towards Japan and sacrifice its relationship with China. It must exercise conflict management and aid China and Japan in ameliorating the situation. The U.S. and China will continue to partition the sea between the limits of their naval power, but a dynamic equilibrium of sorts will appear.

(Liu Bih-rong / Professor at Soochow University)

The Key is Finance and the Economy

Obama has used the American values of freedom and democracy to dress up the twin policies of war and peace. He intends to continue leading East Asia and maintain the advantageous position of the U.S. as the region with the most vigorous economy in the world, and furthermore use this to consolidate the U.S. dollar's irreplaceable value as the international reserve currency . However, East Asian states remain reserved on President Obama's position. If the U.S. economy weakens, its finances are in disarray and it is unable to scrape together an adequate defense budget, its current strategies will be unsustainable. When that time comes, the East Asian allies of the U.S. will consequently also lose faith in it.

(Zeng Fusheng / Advisor for the National Policy Foundation's National Security Division)

A Change in the Execution of Policy

The U.S. government's policies obviously have a fair degree of continuity, especially with a second-term president, but the ideas of the executors of policy are equally important. With regards to Obama's policies towards China in his second term, both current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell have a slightly anti-Chinese bent. Their interpretation and implementation of policy tend to fall on the side of being "excessive" rather than "not enough." Once there is a changing of the guard in these two key positions, the execution of policy may very well change as well. An inspection of the statement record and voting tendencies of the nominee for secretary of state, Senator John Kerry, reveals that he is entirely distinct from Hillary.

(Sun Yang-ming / Vice President of the Prospect Foundation)

No True Containment of China

In the next four years, Obama will prioritize internal over foreign affairs. Prior to the election, he made a point of bringing up the "return to Asia," "air-sea battle" doctrine, and so on in response to GOP criticism that he was "weak on foreign affairs," deliberately displaying strong electoral dialogue. Obama recognizes the U.S. economy’s weakness, the friction between parties, the corruption within society and that U.S. foreign capabilities are limited. His selection of Kerry for secretary of state as someone who places greater weight on Beijing and is willing to listen to its opinions, as well as U.S. aid to Myanmar being more in word than action, suggest that the president will not truly seek to contain China, but will instead cooperate with Xi Jinping rather than contend against him.

(Lin Chong-pin / Former Deputy Defense Minister of Taiwan)



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