Kerry’s Speech Is Bulging with Hegemonic Intent

On the 13th of this month in Hawaii, during his sixth visit to the Asia-Pacific, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the United States’ future policies for the region. In his speech he continuously made reference to China, stating that the U.S. welcomed China’s rise and that it looked forward to a peaceful, prosperous and settled China. Kerry stressed that the U.S. would always regard the Asia-Pacific region as a crucial area, and that it would be vigorously “marketing” its Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) system throughout the region.

The Strategic Shift toward China Is Important

Kerry stressed that: “We will continue to respond to situations in Iraq and Ukraine, but we will never forget the United States’ long-term strategic responsibility. The U.S. government will shift its strategic focus toward the Asia-Pacific — Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gaza strip and the Ukraine crisis are not really the key areas, the Obama administration is continuing to shift its strategic intentions toward the Asia-Pacific.”*

Kerry also said, “The United States is an Asian-Pacific nation, and we take our enduring interests there very seriously. We know that America’s security and prosperity are closely and increasingly linked to the Asia-Pacific.” As a result, Kerry said that President Obama had asked him to be his gift bearer over his next two and a half years of office, and work to increase American influence over matters in the Asia-Pacific. Obama had asked Kerry to reinforce its alliance system within the Asia-Pacific region; specifically, Obama wants to focus on ensuring long-lasting economic upturns, resource efficiencies and regional cooperation, and to continue talks on human rights and democracy.

Kerry said President Obama had already clearly expressed that the U.S. welcomed China’s rise, and that it looked forward to a peaceful, prosperous and stable China. The U.S. welcomed China becoming a great, responsible country. The U.S. and China share a path, and they will need to deepen mutual cooperation and avoid misunderstandings. On August 8, in an interview with the New York Times, President Obama stated in response to the Iraq situation: “For the past 30 years, China has been a ‘free rider’ insofar as international security is concerned. Nothing compares with the effectiveness of the airstrikes that the U.S. has been conducting in Iraq.”

This comment immediately drew intense responses from the international community. Even the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s website posted an article entitled “China is still a free rider when it comes to international security,” pointing out its doubts over President Obama’s assertion: “China importing oil from Iraq would be a win-win situation for both countries, but it does not follow from this that China would stand to profit most from a war in Iraq. Moreover, China’s diverse investment strategies in Iraq have helped created stability in the region, and this can only play to the United States’ advantage. The real culprit for the chaos in Iraq today is the United States. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a disastrous decision. The U.S. ought to be responsible for the present situation in Iraq, and it needs to invest more of its strength into helping stabilize the country. China has already done what it needs to do to assist. Does the U.S. truly want China to play a more active role on the international stage? Responsibility is something that cannot be separated from a leadership’s authority — the U.S. asking China to take on more responsibility is akin to the U.S. passing China an equal leadership role.”

Fallacious Reasoning and Nonsense Talk

Kerry adequately demonstrated his foreign diplomacy handiwork when carving up the Asia-Pacific issue. His words smacked of nothing less than total hegemonic intent. He points out that any building of a new system of U.S.-China relations needs to come from a base of pragmatic cooperation and mutual responses to challenges where they arise. But words alone aren’t enough to build this vision of a “new relation between superpowers.” Firing out disparaging criticisms and Obama’s talk about “China hitching a ride on the international security front for the past 30 years,” while at the same time saying, “We are so happy to see China maintaining close cooperation with the U.S. on areas of mutual concern like Iraq, the peninsula nuclear issue, climate change, anti-piracy and problems in South Sudan” — it’s a perfect example of how trying to cover things up only makes a problem worse.

In another respect, Kerry also subtly criticized China over its establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone covering the South and East China Seas and the Diaoyu Islands, stating that such acts weren’t really fitting of a great country. In response to the East and South China seas issues, Kerry said, “This will be a test of the strength of international laws,” and then he clearly pointed out that the U.S. “strongly opposed” any form of military pressure in the region.* In the past, similar words were used in Iraq, where despite there being no weapons of mass destruction in the country the United States was still able to manufacture reasons for launching its invasion there.

Kerry also made a point of last year’s fisheries agreement, signed between Japan and Taiwan. He said that this “demonstrates how despite both sides having disagreements over ownership of the Diaoyu Islands, they can still work to maintain stability in the region,” playing off both sides in a game of cross-strait relations.* Kerry also stated, “The United States takes no position on questions of sovereignty in the South and East China Seas, but we do care about how those questions are resolved…. We care about behavior.” And then, “We firmly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion, or force to assert a territorial or maritime claim by anyone … and we firmly oppose any suggestion that freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea and airspace are privileges granted by big states to small ones.”

When the PLA’s Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong was at the Shangri-La dialogue, he took to criticizing U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, stating that “Mr. Hagel was more outspoken than I expected….” He went on to say that for Hagel to publicly accuse China in his speech was absolutely baseless and without reason. First, the speech from Hagel was hegemonic in nature. Second, it threatened and intimidated China. Third, it was aimed at agitating the ongoing disagreements within the Asia-Pacific region, and would only add to the security woes in the area. Fourth, the speech was not attempting to be constructive at all.

Ultimately, then, who is it that is really causing trouble in the Asia-Pacific, and who is inciting the conflict within the region? For many years China has been concerned with protecting its territorial waters, and has never sought to stir up trouble over sea demarcation issues — the initiators have all been the other parties in the conflict. In all instances, the Chinese government has had no alternative but to respond to their moves. Moreover, both Kerry and Hagel’s speeches are the same in that they are full of irresponsible accusations and threats toward China. General Yao Zhuyun puts forth these questions for consideration: “Is not Japan’s progressive nationalization of the Diaoyu islands an attempt to change the status quo? Are not sovereignty and jurisdiction one and the same thing where the Diaoyu are concerned? China has been criticized for adopting heavy handed military tactics in response to this situation, but isn’t the United States doing the same thing by trying to tie up a security agreement alliance with the other parties in this conflict of interest? China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is in violation of international law? Well, in 1952 during American occupation, who did Japan consult with when it established an Air Defense Identification Zone?”

Who does the U.S. think it can fool with its senseless accusations? Whatever countries are dancing to this tune from the United States, they are nothing more than speculative opportunists who are willing to become pawns of its government.

China Is Left Shunned and Without a Choice

Throughout the speech, Kerry elaborated on the United States’ Asia-Pacific policies to sustain and improve economic development, promote clean energy, build ties between countries in the area, and improve the quality of their civic societies. He also stated that the U.S. was concerned with bringing about peace in the Asia-Pacific, stabilizing the region. From the establishment of new forms of relations with China through Obama’s autumn visit to Beijing, from the conducting of international issues through joint responses to climate change, in all areas the U.S. has no other option but to cooperate with China. China’s power base throughout the Asia-Pacific region relies on mutual trust, mutual benefits of advantage, and peaceful and profitable relations with China’s neighbors — it doesn’t rely on might or hegemonic force. Principles of multi-polarization and desires for a harmonious world order are the overarching fundamentals behind China’s rise.

China has already become a strong country; it is now entering at a stable pace into world politics, economics and diplomacy, as well as law and civil order. China has never attempted to force its own values onto other countries, and it has always advocated the development of civilized approaches to issues, as well as providing mutual opportunities for learning and the strengthening of cultural exchanges. Increasingly, China has stood out specifically for its attempts to establish a world presence that is built upon the strength of a harmonious world at large; this is a fact that the United States, with its Cold War mindset, cannot deny. Nowhere in the world is there a country that would not want its voice to be heard, that would not seek opportunities to develop, and that would not try to oppose might or force directed against it. All countries in the world are united in their fundamental desire to stand up against an unfair order.

There is no way that the United States can cause China to lose faith in its ability to grow. From a political perspective, the U.S. cannot escape the shadow of China’s influence when it attempts to gain support and understanding from other countries in its causes. And from an economic point of view, the U.S. and China are interlocked as the biggest trading partners in the world. When considering the breakdown of industrial production between the two countries, it’s already an “I am within you and you are within me” arrangement, and there is no easily discernable way to alter this arrangement in the short term. What is more important to consider is that the United States is still the largest creditor nation, China is slowly taking steps to the internationalization of the renminbi, and the BRICS nations have established a US$100 billion development bank. These are all important changes to the world’s financial structure. The World Bank, under the control of the United States, cannot ignore the complementing forces these new changes will bring to financial sectors around the globe.

In regional territorial politics, China has been using the Shanghai Cooperative Organization to develop westward stability in central Asia, counter terrorism, and create new platforms for economic cooperation. Through cooperation and by strengthening ties with Central and Eastern Europe, China hopes to build a new Silk Road trade route — a new economic model for the Eurasian continent. Already complementary economic models are at work across the oceans; this new proposal has gained support from major EU players France and Germany, with the potential for two-way economic ties with Russia also in the cards. In Africa, China is forging new avenues of cooperation. China respects the right of African nations to independently choose their own economic models, allowing them to invest in new mutual arrangements as they see fit, and thereby promote unity, economic cooperation, and prosperity throughout the African union. In Latin America, China is expanding cooperation on economic and high-tech reforms, as well as developing free trade agreements and investment opportunities. This kind of global trading pattern is something that the United States has to consider when dealing with major issues across the globe.

Both the U.S. and China have areas of benefit and cooperation. If the U.S. wants to retain power over the globe over for the next 100 years, it cannot ignore the position China now holds in the world. The much lauded new form of great U.S. and China relations is not built upon words alone. It’s important for Obama to reflect on this over the next two and a half years, especially as he sends Kerry out into the Asia-Pacific to redouble his efforts and offer sweet words.

*Editor’s Note: This quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.

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