China attacks U.S. foreign policy in Asia

Posted on September 4, 2012


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing on Tuesday.

BEIJING – China on Tuesday blasted U.S. foreign policy in Asia as an attempt to stop China’s rise as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived here as part of a tour of the region.

“Many Chinese people do not like Hillary” said an editorial in the Global Times, a highly popular and nationalistic newspaper run by the ruling Communist Party. The paper stated that the United States aims to maintain its “world hegemony” partly by restricting China’s rise.

China’s state-run news agency Xinhua warned that U.S. politicians “who preposterously fancy they could do gold-digging in China and rein in China’s rise simultaneously, should remember the old saying that no one can have his cake and eat it too.”

“The United States should stop its role as a sneaky troublemaker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings,” it said.

The harsh words come on a day when several Asian nations asked for U.S. help in countering aggressive moves by China to lay claim to the more than 1 million square miles of the South China Sea and thus control its energy resources.

Clinton said following a meeting Tuesday with the Southeast Asian states in Indonesia that the states must present a united front to the Chinese to “calm the waters.” She urged all involved to make “meaningful progress” on a process for ending conflicts “without coercion, without intimidation and certainly without the use of force.”

Clinton made her remarks in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, before a gathering of theAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. She then left for Beijing for two days of talks and met late Tuesday with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

President Obama has not taken a side in the dispute and his administration says the United States supports a regionally endorsed code of conduct for all claimants to disputed islands. China, however, wants any territorial disputes to be resolved between it and individual countries and opposes a pact with a unified group of its neighbors.

Chinese experts interviewed Tuesday doubted Clinton’s visit would sway either side’s current position.

Yan Xuetong, a scholar at Qinghua University in Beijing, said both sides seek conciliation but any reduction in tensions will be temporary in China and America’s “superficial friendship.”

“China-U.S. relations have deteriorated, not improved,” under Obama, he said. The president’s announced plan to “pivot” U.S. focus toward the Asia Pacific after years of emphasis on Iraq and Afghanistan, “tries to unite more countries in this region toward the American side and isolate China.”

U.S. opposition to China’s development of a military garrison in the South China Sea also galvanized Chinese public opinion against Clinton, Yan said.

Recent disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines over islands in the South China Sea have highlighted China’s determination to defend what it sees as sovereign territory. The most urgent issue, a confrontation with Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, could escalate into real conflict, warned Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at People’s University in Beijing.

During talks Wednesday in Beijing, Clinton will ask China’s leaders to resolve this and other disputes by peaceful means, while her hosts will ask the USA to interfere less in the region, he predicted. The visit “can improve the atmosphere, but the gap is so huge the positions of Washington and Beijing will not move substantially,” Shi said.

Clinton stressed earlier on her 11-day trip to the region that the Pacific Ocean is big enough to hold both the USA and China. U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke said a strengthened U.S. presence in Asia is not aimed at any one country. But “this is obviously trying to deceive others as well as themselves,” responded a commentary piece in China’s 21st Century Business Herald newspaper.

Female leaders, especially female U.S. secretaries of State, are always quite “unfriendly” to China, said Zhao Lei, an international relations expert at the Communist Party’s Central Party School. “They put greater stress on values and not on real material interests or economic needs,” he wrote on Weibo, a Twitter-like micro-blog, last week.

Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney has vowed a tougher line on China if elected president in November. If elected, “Romney must adopt a realistic policy toward China,” said Yan. Despite his rhetoric, “Romney must maintain the current policy, for economic reasons, and because neither side wants a war.”

Calum MacLeod

Smiles and Barbs for Clinton in China

BEIJING — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived here on Tuesday night to a barrage of unusually harsh coverage in China’s official news media over what they called American meddling in territorial disputes in the region — and then a strikingly warm welcome from the country’s foreign minister.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing.

The contrasting receptions — both official, though in different ways — underscored a complicated and often fraught relationship that both countries nevertheless appear intent to maintain despite serious differences over foreign policy, trade and human rights.

“In recent years, the China-U.S. relationship has maintained stability and achieved development,” the foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, told Mrs. Clinton in brief but positive remarks before talks and a dinner here, “and we have made important progress in some areas.”

A certain amount of pleasantries and parrying is not unusual during high-level visits like Mrs. Clinton’s, but articles and editorials in China’s official media, as well as comments by Chinese analysts, contained unusual bite on Tuesday, including personal criticism of Mrs. Clinton.

The sharpness stemmed from tensions over China’s increasingly assertive claims in maritime disputes with other nations in the region, and it echoed a feeling shared by many in both countries that the United States and China are locked in a competition for dominance in the region and beyond.

“The United States should stop its role as a sneaky troublemaker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings,” a writer specializing in foreign policy said in an article for Xinhua, the state-run news agency. It was a clear reference to recent statements by the State Department criticizing China’s establishment of a military garrison on disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Mrs. Clinton’s visit is certain to have far less drama than her last one, in May, when a blind Chinese dissident, Chen Guangcheng, escaped house arrest and sought refuge in the American Embassy here, infuriating the Chinese and enmeshing the United States in arduous negotiations that eventually won permission for Mr. Chen to leave China for New York.

Despite the lingering tensions from that case and new ones over China’s territorial ambitions, Mrs. Clinton had been scheduled over two days to meet with all of the country’s senior leaders, including President Hu Jintao and his presumed successor, Xi Jinping, on Wednesday. However, her meeting with Mr. Xi was canceled Wednesday morning. United States officials said Mr. Xi had cancelled other meetings scheduled for the day so it did not appear that any slight was intended.

Officials traveling with her expressed hope that differences over the South China Sea could be overcome in the same way that Mr. Chen’s case was.

“We are committed to building a cooperative partnership with China,” Mrs. Clinton said here on Tuesday evening. “It is a key aspect of our rebalancing in the Asia-Pacific.”

The Obama administration’s renewed focus on Asia has been unfavorably interpreted in some quarters here as an effort to contain China. China is as wary of American moves in the region — including an increase in military personnel and matériel in Australia and the Philippines — as the United States and its allies in the region are of China’s territorial ambitions.

“For the United States, the South China Sea is not a matter of territorial disputes,” said Wu Xinbo, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. “It’s an issue of strategic gaming. The United States is concerned about China’s naval growth.”

Mrs. Clinton, who is in the middle of a 10-day, 6-nation tour of Asia, has repeatedly said that the United States is not taking a position on the disputed islands in the South China Sea and that it is seeking a peaceful settlement of the overlapping claims.

In Indonesia the day before, she expressed support for efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — which includes the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam, all with competing territorial claims — to negotiate a code of conduct that would avert disputes and lay the foundation for long-term settlements.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has gone out of its way in the past two days to say that only the countries directly involved in South China Sea territorial disputes should participate in their solutions, a clear public rebuff of the United States.

China’s recent tactics have raised concerns even among other countries in the region not directly involved, including India, Singapore and Indonesia. In particular, they cite China’s blocking of a diplomatic communiqué at an Asean summit meeting in Cambodia in July that called for a collaborative process, rather than confrontation.

“China’s evident pressure on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has undermined 20 years of Chinese ‘charm diplomacy,’ ” said an Asian diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“If Asean is divided,” the diplomat said, “this will ultimately rebound against China’s interests because it could well catalyze the very thing China fears most: containment by the United States, as anxious smaller countries will naturally cluster around the United States for balance.”

Mrs. Clinton, who has traveled to China often as secretary of state, is generally viewed here as more hostile than other American officials, including Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon. When he visited in July, the official news media were more welcoming.

By contrast, a commentary in the state-run Global Times on Tuesday was blunt about Mrs. Clinton. “Many Chinese people do not like Secretary Clinton,” the commentary said, according to a translation from the Chinese by the American Embassy. “The antipathy and vigilance that she personally has brought to the Chinese public are not necessarily in the United States’ diplomatic interest.”

N.Y. Times

China warns US on South China Sea row as Clinton visits

China has urged the US not to meddle in regional disputes, hours before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began a two-day visit to the country.

Ms Clinton arrived after talks in Indonesia which focused on territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

In Indonesia she urged regional bloc Asean to form a united front on the issue.

Ms Clinton and Chinese officials are also expected to discuss Syria, Iran and North Korea.

She arrived in Beijing late on Tuesday and will spend all of Wednesday meeting senior officials.

After China she is scheduled to visit East Timor and Brunei before heading to the Apec forum in Russia as part of her 11-day tour.

Territorial rows

Mrs Clinton said that the US did not take a position on competing territorial claims

Ahead of Ms Clinton’s arrival, the Chinese foreign ministry expressed its hope that the US would maintain its previously stated position of neutrality over the South China Sea disputes.

“We hope the US side will keep its commitment and make efforts that help, rather than harm, regional peace and stability,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

In addition, one state-run newspaper has accused the secretary of state of causing profound mistrust between the two countries.

In talks at the headquarters of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, Ms Clinton called on Asean countries to stand together on the issue and pushed for a code of conduct governing maritime territorial disputes.

China has competing territorial claims with four Asean member-states in the South China Sea. The rows have led to increased tensions in the region.

Earlier this year, vessels from China and the Philippines faced off for several weeks over one area, the Scarborough Shoal.

Mrs Clinton said on Tuesday that the US had a national interest in maintaining peace, stability and respect for international law in the region.

While the US “does not take a position on competing territorial claims”, she said, “we believe the nations of the region should work collaboratively to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation and certainly without the use of force”.

At a regular meeting hosted by Cambodia in July, Asean failed for the first time in its 45-year history to issue a joint statement because of tensions over the disputes.

Vietnam and the Philippines accused host Cambodia of yielding to Chinese pressure to keep the issue off the agenda.

‘Strong opposition’
Chinese media has been lukewarm ahead of her visit.

“Though US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the Asia-Pacific is big enough to hold both China and the United States, Washington still need to take concrete actions to improve its ties with China,” an article on state-run Xinhua news agency said.

“Moreover, Washington has been trying to work with a number of South East Asian nations to force China into a multi-national solution to territorial rows in the South China Sea, despite China’s strong and perennial opposition.”

Mrs Clinton’s last visit to China in 2 May was overshadowed by the diplomatic crisis over the blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who fled to the US embassy.

He was later allowed to go to New York to study.


Posted in: Economy, Politics