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Ding Gang: Washington’s one-man show is over in Asia Pacific


By Ding Gang    Source: Global Times    Published: 2016-12-14


The Asia-Pacific regional order has been mainly constructed and managed by the US since World War II. Under this order, China rose. The first step of China`s reform and opening-up, advocated by then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, was to establish diplomatic ties with the US.

However, Donald Trump`s taking office may disrupt the current order. His remarks on the One China policy may ostensibly target China, but, in nature, have upset the US-constructed order in the Asia Pacific region.

There is nothing new to using proxies to manipulate the region and gain profits, but it can only be realized on the basis of the consolidation of US-led regional order.

If Washington withdraws from, upsets or fails to safeguard the current regional order, there is no way it can benefit from it. This is where Trump`s weakness lies.

The strategy of rebalancing to the Asia Pacific region, designed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, with human rights and democracy on its banner, relied on military investment and hyping up the "China threat" theory to tie regional countries to the US chariot.

The strategy now seems to have failed. The US is unable to increase economic investments to consolidate its status, and is unwilling to have equal cooperation with regional countries. It is China that initiates, constructs and leads some cooperative frameworks in the region.

Obama attempted to use the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to reconstruct economic and trade pillars, but these efforts have been abandoned by Trump. The US-constructed Asia-Pacific order is gradually dissolving into a mere skeleton.

In the new era, Asia is themed by development. Without economic investments, the US cannot profit from slogans or create conflicts in the region, of which Trump is fully aware. He even abolished the TPP for Asia Pacific counties may benefit at the cost of the US.

Eventually, Trump has to take advantage of the contradictions among different countries to maximize benefits for the US.

However, Trump has forgotten one historic rule - when an empire begin to consume more from its own strategy without adding new assets, the decline of that empire will not be too far off.

The rise of Asia has largely reduced US possibilities of using offshore practices to make profits. It`s a fantasy to think Asian countries would be willing to devote their hard-earned achievement to the US because of a few tweets or radical remarks of Trump.

If Trump continues to consume America`s strategic accumulation, it will definitely shrink in Asia, making more countries in the area feel that the US is no longer important or reliable, and could be a trouble maker.

With Trump`s instigation, the situation in Asia will be tenser. Another situation that may arise is that when Asian countries are aware of the US exploiting them, they may pay more attention to cooperation with each other.

Some cooperation may be directed against China. Especially, some regional powers, such as India, Japan and Indonesia, are still worried about the rise of China. Recently, India and Indonesia`s joint statement, involving the South China Sea, is a case in point.

However, the regrouping of regional powers, especially when strengthening coordination and cooperation, can be in China`s favor. China`s economic development will provide support for the regrouping.

As a result of this change, establishing a "new type of major power relations" between the US and China not only depends on Sino-US relations but also China`s relations with surrounding countries.

In China, there is an idiom "When the snipe and the clam grapple, it is the fisherman who profits" and another with the opposite meaning: "Work together with one heart". When more emerging countries appear in the Asia-Pacific area, Washington will eventually realize that its one-man show is over.

The author is a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.


Key Words: US   China   Asia Pacific   Ding Gang  

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