Lately, the United States has been very busy in the Asia-Pacific. The U.S. is reeling from its recent military and diplomatic operations in the Western Pacific, now in full swing. First, the U.S. Secretary of State and other senior government officials cast out the “South China Sea freeze” as part of a three-step plan, then participated in the ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers’ meeting, thus indicating their active presence in the region. After the ASEAN foreign ministers finally declared their “deep concern over recent developments in the South China Sea,” the American government officials seem satisfied.*
Consequently, the United States pushed the Australian military to join it in signing a 25-year military deployment protocol, which will station the U.S. military in Australia’s Northern Territory and the surrounding area, doubling American air and naval forces in the region. Afterward, the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited Vietnam to promote lifting the ban on the sale of lethal weapons to the country, and to advise the Vietnamese navy on beginning cooperation.
Clearly, these American military and diplomatic officials can all justify their actions to a certain extent. It is a question of how we look at it.
For a long time, the United States has relied on its status as a global superpower to influence international maritime order, trying to control the world’s vast oceans with maximum freedom. Today, some countries have adopted air defense identification zones, the United States in particular being a frontrunner. However, while the U.S. can establish such zones, and can also help its allies in establishing them, it is very picky when setting up other countries’ zones. Although demanding that other countries revoke or do not implement them is not an illegal act, such tyrannical behavior goes without saying.
Moreover, with the rise of globalization and the growth of emerging economies, comparative international forces are changing, quietly forming a new world order. America is no longer the United States, and the world is no longer the “world.” Whether in Europe, the Middle East, or Asia, the United States’ capabilities are on the decline. For this reason, the United States is becoming even more anxious with regard to the dwindling old world order.
Indeed, the United States gives a lot of thought to spreading its military and diplomatic resources widely, and strengthening its core system of alliances and partnerships. But after all, embarrassingly cash-strapped Washington is soon to reach five years of dramatically increasing federal debt and two years of falling military expenditures. The so-called U.S. troops stationed in Australia will double from approximately 1,000 to 2,500. The U.S. enthusiastically promotes Vietnam’s arms purchases, but just look at how the Phillippines’ allies sell this stuff; even U.S. allies generally can see that Vietnam cannot get anything.
The ASEAN foreign ministers’ declaration showed their deep concern about the situation in the South China Sea, but everyone knows that it is precisely Vietnam, the Philippines, and U.S. interests acting on their behalf that gave rise to the mess in the South China Sea. Although the United States’ motive for disputing the South China Sea is clear, it has been intentionally muddled. On the surface, the U.S. doesn’t appear to take sides; however, it has tacitly approved Vietnam and the Philippines’ invasion and occupation of Chinese territory, so as to guarantee that the so-called “South China Sea freeze” will cause long-term damage to Chinese sovereignty. Meanwhile, the United States only verbally adheres to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, on the premise of ensuring that Chinese sovereignty is impaired, so as to appear to take an impartial stance toward Philippine interests. It is not difficult to see through the United States’ motives in these situations.
The United States claims the “American Pacific,” where no one goes, and knows its place there very well. Regardless of whether in the East or South China Sea, China’s sovereign interests have already been damaged, but China is still in control. However, the United States has to understand that times are different now, and relying on its strength to maintain its power has been difficult to sustain. China is willing to cooperate amicably with all of its neighbors, even if one or two do not reciprocate. At the same time, we advise the United States to assess its own capabilities and act accordingly, and not waste its power trying to thwart China’s timely and justified rise.
*Editor’s Note: This quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.