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17 Apr, 2013

US ‘pivot’ policy destabilizing Asia-Pacific region – China Daily Commentary

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

Beijing, April 17, 2013 – The US “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific, including the country’s expanding military presence and consolidation of military alliances, has destabilized the region, according to a Ministry of National Defense report issued on Tuesday.

Military experts said Beijing has no problem with Washington seeking involvement in the region’s prosperity, but it is concerned that the US initiative might be aimed at China and disturb the “Chinese dream” of national rejuvenation.

“Some countries are strengthening their Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanding military presence in the region, and frequently making the situation there tenser,” the 40-page report on the “Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces” said, without naming any particular state.

In the pivot, the US will deploy 60 percent of its naval fleet in the Pacific by 2020. Singapore will be home to four new US littoral warships, intended for combat close to shore. Indonesia is seeking to buy a broad array of American hardware and wants to take part in joint maneuvers. The Philippines is trying to host more US troops on a rotating basis, and Australia has agreed to allow up to 2,500 US marines to be based in its north-central city of Darwin.

And those are just some of the military moves under the pivot policy.

When asked at a news conference on the report’s release whether Washington’s military expansion was raising tensions, Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Yang Yujun said, “Certain efforts made to highlight the military agenda, enhance military deployment and also strengthen alliances are not in line with the calling of the times.”

Such moves “are not conducive to supporting peace and stability in the region”, he said.

“We hope that the parties involved will do more to enhance the mutual trust between countries in the region and contribute to peace and stability,” Yang said.

Peng Guangqian, a senior military expert in Beijing, said Yang’s comments and the military paper on US military expansion are “polite”.

“US military alliances in the Asia-Pacific are the result of the Cold War, and Washington did not end them after the Cold War, but reinforced them. It is an obvious fact, and obviously aimed at China,” Peng said.

The pivot has added to instability in the region, and some states have taken the opportunity to “disturb the calm water” in the East and South China seas, he added.

China’s territorial rows with Japan and some Southeast Asian nations have flared up since 2012, while some countries involved have sought support from the US.

“The US can hardly absolve itself of blame, and that is not in line with its long-term interests,” Peng said.

The remarks came one day after US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to dispel skepticism about the pivot, saying the US will build on its “enduring presence”.

Asked about Kerry’s remarks, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday that Beijing welcomes the constructive involvement of the US in Asian-Pacific affairs.

Yao Yunzhu, director of the Center on China-American Defense Relations at the Academy of Military Science, said China has no problem seeking long-term prosperity in the region with the US.

“China absolutely does not want to see the US Pacific dream destroy the Chinese dream. Surely we can achieve common prosperity.”