U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's whirlwind tour of China in early April saw a tense exchange with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan over the United States' pivot to Asia. China would "make no compromise, no concession, no treaty," Chang said, adding, "the Chinese military can assemble as soon as summoned, fight any battle and win." Hagel, for his part, said that the United States was "fully committed" to is treaty obligations with the Philippines and with Japan -- which administers the Senkakus, the disputed islands which China claims and calls the Diaoyu. In the days leading up to U.S. President Barack Obama's late April trip to the region, where is visiting Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Malaysia -- and pointedly not China -- there is a worrying amount of strain among China, Japan, and the United States. Are temperatures running so high that China might actually seize the Senkakus by force? Or are these worries overblown?
We asked contributors to assess the risks in relations among China, Japan and the United States.
Ely Ratner Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security
The U.S.-China relationship has a way of providing something for everyone, and on this score Hagel's visit to Beijing met all expectations.
Proponents of the concept of a "new model of major country relations" could come away seeing the visit as an exemplar of win-win engagement given the spate of concrete agreements to deepen bilateral dialogue and military-to-military cooperation.
Antithetically, those predisposed to view China's rise in competitive terms could point to the fact that substantive discussions devolved into literal finger wagging as the issues plaguing the "new" relationship looked a whole lot like those that used to trouble the "old" one.
So what do these contradictory accounts of the health of mil-mil relations between the United States and China mean for the management of increasingly tense maritime and sovereignty disputes in East Asia? My view is: hopefully, not much.
Read the full article on Foreign Policy.