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9 Nov, 2012

Warning from China: US ‘dual-deterrence’ is self-defeating


(People’s Daily Online), November 08, 2012  – Japan’s new ambassador to the United States has recently pointed out that the U.S. government does not remain neutral on the Diaoyu Islands issue because the it does not oppose Japan’s “nationalization” of the Diaoyu Islands and indicates the applicability of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty instead, claiming that the United States will treat the possible armed conflicts seriously. It is rare that Japan directly uncovered the position of the United States, which reflects that Japan has directly expressed its dissatisfaction towards the United States on the issue.

On the one hand, the United States remains neutral on the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands and on the other hand it confirms the applicability of Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Through the “ambiguous strategy,” the United States hopes to deter both China and Japan and avoid escalation of China-Japan conflict. “Duel-deterrence” is a customary diplomatic trick of the United States, which seems smart but probably causes dissatisfaction of both China and Japan.

To China, the United States is absolutely not neutral. Japan and the United States are military alliances and U.S. statement that Japan-U.S. Security Treaty can be applied to the Diaoyu Island issue indicates that the United States takes side with Japan. The United States and Japan has strengthened security cooperation and tried to ally with other Asian countries, which is considered directing against China. China does not believe that the United States is a neutral and impartial mediator on the Diaoyu Islands issue. It explains why China has repeatedly stressed that there is no need for the United States to be the intermediary.

Japan is not satisfied with the neutral attitude of the United States. Although the United States has claimed Japan-U.S. Security Treaty can be applied to the Diaoyu Islands issue, Japan does not fully believe that the United States is willing to get involved in the conflict to help Japan at the crucial moment. Therefore, Japan has urged the United States to take a clear-cut stand, supporting Japan’s ownership of the Diaoyu Islands at best or promising to help Japan in emergency situations at worst. However, the United States cannot realize these hopes of Japan. Therefore, the ambiguous stance of the United States may be interpreted as disloyalty to its alliance and it is doubtful that the United States deters Japan.

It is extremely dangerous to adopt “dual-deterrence” strategy in dealing with two important countries in Asia, which cannot achieve positive effects and may intensify strategic mutual suspicion, instead. The United States tries to maintain its influence in Asia by stressing the strategy of “returning to Asia” and “rebalance.” China does not promote the so-called “removal of Americanization” in Asia and hopes that the United States can continue to play a constructive role in the region.

If the United States is really neutral, it at least should stand against Japan’s practice of unilaterally changing the status quo. The United States knows clearly that the cause of the Diaoyu Islands issue is Japan’s unilaterally breaking of the status quo. In the long run, the United States should support the establishment of governance mechanism in the East Asia and promote the political reconciliation among the East Asian countries, instead of maintaining and even strengthening the bilateral security network centering on the United States.

Read the Chinese version: 美“双重威慑”将弄巧成拙, source: People’s Daily Overseas Edition, author: Zhang Yun