Any country has the right to share in an amicable international environment that is unthreatened in the process of its economic growth. The “conflict control” behavior that the U.S. has exhibited on the issues concerning the South China Sea and the Diaoyu Islands is intensifying China’s relationship with its peripheral regions and threatening the stable external environment of our country’s new round of economic growth.
The Americans could not personally feel the intense anger that is displayed on Weibo (a microblogging platform in China). It is only with clear knowledge of America’s strategic bottom line on the issues of the South China Sea and the Diaoyu Islands that the Chinese can gain self-confidence. In the past, we have often talked about international politics with regards to the South China Sea and the Diaoyu Islands; now, we can also switch over to the economic perspective.
2008 was a key year of competition of the growth of various countries; there was an indication of the advantages of the international economic development rapidly inclining towards Asia, particularly China. To the U.S., the best option for it to continue maintaining its position in the region, its status as a dominant nation and its leadership in industrial growth is to turn its body, which has focused mainly on its development in the Atlantic Ocean for more than two centuries, around and shift its focus to the Pacific Ocean. Evidently, the U.S. did not act in haste in its return to Asia. Controlling the South China Sea and the Diaoyu Islands is merely the U.S.’S game point in its Pacific Ocean Century strategy. Its deeper objective is to put the focus of the century of the U.S.’S growth on growth that is heavily reliant on the Asia-Pacific region. This is the strategic motive of the Americans.
The Americans have many options when it comes to Pacific Ocean strategy. Co-management by China and the U.S. is one of them, but this is difficult to realize in the coming decades. If the co-management was shared among China, the U.S. and Russia, the complications would be global and the cost of cooperation would be too high. In reality, the acceptable option is for the existing allied cooperation to control the entire Pacific Ocean region. We should fortify our reserves in political, economic and military resources as well as expand the borders with the peripheral regions at point-of-entry incidents in the area of growth. This is a strategy of internal cooperation within a small circle and playing an external zero-sum game. The objective is to realize the containment and balance of the Pacific Ocean region.
In the strategic objective described above, controlling border conflicts and accumulating nodal benefits have become a regular feature of the U.S.’S short- to mid-term conduct. The issues of the Diaoyu Islands and the South China Sea are the best points of entry. The U.S. has made use of the weakness of human nature of the people’s collective intense responses to the incidents of the people of the countries involved — the exceeding sensitivity on territorial issues and being easily given to make emotional judgments. The “conflict of control” has caused the most important thinking units of the countries involved — the media, the academic circles, the business world and the decision-makers — to be highly reticent in their views on territorial issues in the internal levels of individual nations, and inclining towards not making any concessions. The “conflict of control” has even caused territorial ownership issues, originally traceable in history among individual countries, to become unclear due to the divergence of the nations claiming ownership. This has severely suppressed the room for cooperation from peripheral countries.
We believe that the “cost-benefit” balance is the basis on which the U.S. holds its position on the issues of the South China Sea and the Diaoyu Islands. The bottom line of the U.S.’S actions is to gain dominance of the Pacific Ocean Century using “soft-power control” and not to declare an all-out war on China for the Philippines and Japan on the issues of the islands. In the short term, raising the rationality of our country’s public discourse in understanding the issues of the islands calmly is imperative; raising the procedural benefits of our precise stripping away from the U.S. and increasing its procedural cost of control is even more so.
There are two top-level design principles in precision engagement. The first is to increase the U.S.’s domestic cost for its control of the South China Sea and the Diaoyu Islands conflict at the sidelines. The distance between the two coasts of the Pacific Ocean is 21,000 kilometers. For the Americans to cross more than 90 percent of the ocean to get close to the water regions near and within China, its cost of power delivery and maintenance is 10 times that of China. If we controlled the conflict but left the U.S. to maintain the scale of its military power at a cost that borders on an uncomfortable level, the cost of its policy-making would increase. Again, if we promote the realization of “cooperation and balance” between the two sides of the Pacific Ocean with America’s Republican political power, represented by Henry Kissinger, to oppose Hillary Clinton’s policy of “suppress and balance,” we can increase the Republicans’ right to speak in the U.S. through some design and increase the cost of policy-making for the Democrats’ policy of suppressing the Chinese.
The second principle is to increase the U.S.’s cost of alliance. The possibility of the Americans holding their position as the “Big Brother” as well as running the risk of declaring an all-out war on China and managing the Pacific Ocean Century is almost zero. The incident of Lee Myung-bak visiting Dokdo Island indicated that a hole has been torn in the cooperation between the U.S., Japan and Korea because of disputes among allies. We must act in concert with countries that have the same stance as China, such as Korea, on territorial disputes and increase the cost of the U.S.’S campaign against China together with its allies. We must let the U.S. and its traditional allies be fully aware that realizing the Pacific Ocean Century objective by opposing China is impractical, and that even engaging in conflict control would also increase its risks.
All in all, we should start off from the basis of healthy cooperation and engagement and do more to antagonize the Americans on the periphery to force them; to increase their cost of policy-making; to teach and guide them to treat China, its neighbor at the other end of the Pacific Ocean, with a more responsible attitude from the standpoint of economic costs.