China: The Unavoidable lens through which Americans analyze Asia

 

Dr. Patrick Cronin, senior advisor and senior director of CNAS' Asia-Pacific Security Program, provides an overview for risk and opportunity in Indo-Pacific Asia. Panelists included Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Dr. David F. Gordon, Eurasia Group; Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, U.S. Institute of Peace; Vikram J. Singh, Center for American Progress; and General James D. Thurman, USA (Ret.). Dr. Cronin moderated the panel. Screengrab, CNAS YouTube Channel.

Dr. Patrick Cronin, senior advisor and senior director of CNAS’ Asia-Pacific Security Program, provides an overview for risk and opportunity in Indo-Pacific Asia. Panelists included Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Dr. David F. Gordon, Eurasia Group; Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, U.S. Institute of Peace; Vikram J. Singh, Center for American Progress; and General James D. Thurman, USA (Ret.). Dr. Cronin moderated the panel. Screengrab, CNAS YouTube Channel.

By Karam Singh Sethi
June 18, 2014

“The Asia Pivot? What Asia Pivot? Ah, you mean the ‘contain China,’ Pivot?” a senior expert on Asia rhetorically responded, after I inquired about the pivot at the Center for New American Security’s recent conference. It seemed like a fair question.

Obama’s cornerstone foreign policy initiative has taken plenty of flack the past few months, since his attention is justifiably elsewhere. The anything-but-concerted efforts in the Asia Pacific changes little, though. The race for natural resources will force the region into focus in the near future, regardless of U.S. engagement. It’s up to the Obama administration to stay ahead of the curve.

One way of getting a jumpstart is to create a sense of calm around relations with China. The Asian giant is an unavoidable lens through which Americans analyze the rest of Asia, so, let’s ask: What is the state of bilateral cooperations with China, itself?

Tension in the South China Sea and North Korean missile tests remain obstacles to successful relations, and domestic cyber attacks linked to the PLA warrant some degree of concern, but by no means do these isolated issues correlate to a failed bilateral link. The male bravado surrounding U.S.-China talks are actually far less tense than headlines suggest. The recommendation to decrease this sense of dread around the Asian giant comes from a panel of Asian policy experts at Center for a New American Security’s Eighth Annual National Security Conference last week.

Panelists included Nicholas Burns (former U.S. Ambassador and professor at the Harvard Kennedy School), Dr. David F. Gordon (Eurasia Group), Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt (U.S. Institute of Peace), Vikram J. Singh (Center for American Progress) and James D. Thurman (former U.S. General). From humanitarians, to generals, the panel included a myriad of diverse thoughts meant to cover “Risk and Opportunity in Indo-Pacific.” It soon appeared clear, though, that analyzing Asia meant first predicting Chinese actions. Because every question inevitably triggered an analysis of China, moderator Patrick Cronin of CNAS finally posed the cryptic question, “Is China partner or enemy?”

From the Gulf to the Straits of Malacca, the U.S. competes with China over securing energy deals, but the two powers will undoubtedly collaborate on counterterrorism operations in the near future. Additionally, China’s intentional aggression towards its neighbors is a calculated raised eyebrow towards Obama’s Pivot. Singh pointed out this tug of war is merely symbolic, and bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and China are actually quite strong, pointing to what is currently the largest frontier of cooperation: climate change.

The topic dominated Secretary of State John Kerry’s Beijing visit in February, and prompted a joint statement by the United States and China (the two largest emitters of greenhouse gasses):

“In light of the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change… Both sides reaffirm their commitment to contribute significantly to successful 2015 global efforts to meet this challenge. Accordingly, China and the United States will work together… to collaborate through enhanced policy dialogue, including the sharing of information regarding their respective post-2020 plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions.”

Besides rhetoric chained to bureaucratic  jargon, the private sector is increasing bilateral cooperation. Tesla, a U.S. maker of electric cars, will build charging stations for its electric cars in Beijing and Shanghai and is even rumored to be setting up a factory in China. Sales are projected to climb in the near future, which will only solidify this partnership.

This public and private collaboration is building confidence between the U.S. and China that is unlikely to wane in the coming years.

A full video of the panel is embedded below.

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Posted by on June 18, 2014. Filed under Recent News,Top News,World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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