“China looks across Asia”

Reuters has a new piece on Chinese foreign policy, and the changing picture they see:

None of China’s festering territorial disputes is near resolution. Its growing economic and military reach continues to stir worry in many parts of Asia. And despite vows of mutual goodwill, Beijing remains wary of U.S. intentions and alliances, including Obama’s push for a new regional free trade pact.

One theme is that the United States is bent on “encircling” China, an idea reflected in recent commentaries in state-run newspapers suggesting that U.S. pressure was behind Myanmar’s decision to suspend work on a controversial Chinese-funded dam.

China has seen the former Burma as a bulwark on it southwest border, and a conduit for trade and energy imports.

“(China) fears that some countries are pulling in major powers from the outside to counter-balance China, or that some neighbours are teaming up against China,” a team of researchers from a Chinese state think tank said in a recent study of Beijing’s regional dilemmas.

Even as Beijing leaders have sought to tamp down regional tensions, media commentaries and harder-line quarters have warned that China remains beset by potential strategic traps.

Last month, for example, the Chinese Ministry of Defence published on its website an essay warning that Japan and India were entering into the disputes over the South China Sea, where Beijing claims most of the potentially energy-rich ocean floor.

“The South China Sea presents far greater strategic needs for Japan than it does for China,” said the essay by Zhang Wenmu, a professor of strategic studies at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, who is well-known for his hawkish views. “Only major strategic needs can produce structural strategic conflict.”

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Filed under Chinese foreign policy, Myanmar, South China Sea

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