Obama aims to encircle China in Asian tour

PRESIDENT Obama’s tour of Asia commencing this week includes visit to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. A prominent omission is China. New York Times Op-Ed of October 31 ‘China’s Fast Rise Leads Neighbours to Join Forces’ spills the beans on the real agenda of Mr. Obama. According to the NYT exposé, it is an ardent desire of the US to “encircle China”. It has become obvious that the growing economic strength of China has become not only a cause of envy for the US but perhaps a tinge of jealousy is also visible. It is really surprising that the US should feel animosity towards China, since the financial meltdown in USA, would have led to total bankruptcy and a repeat of the crash of 1929 but China came to the US rescue and has invested trillions of dollars in treasury bonds.Yet the revelation that the US is currying favours with those who carry a grouse with China and organize them into a Chanakyan replay of the “Mandala Theory”. As a political realist, Chanakya a.k.a. Kautilya assumed that every nation acts to maximize power and self-interest, and therefore moral principles or obligations have little or no force in actions among nations. While it is good to have an ally, the alliance will last only as long as it is in that ally’s as well as one’s own self-interest, because “an ally looks to the securing of his own interests in the event of simultaneity of calamities and in the event of the growth of the enemy’s power.”His “Mandala Theory” advocated that the enemies of one’s enemy must be befriended and organized into circles to contain one’s own enemy. This is exactly what Mr. Obama has set out to achieve. A whirl of deal-making and diplomacy, from Tokyo to New Delhi, is giving the United States an opportunity to reassert itself in a region where its eclipse by China has been viewed as inevitable. Over the weekend, 18 countries gathered at Hanoi for a meeting suffused by tensions between China and its neighbours. US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton was conveniently at hand to steer the meeting and offer mediation between China and Japan as well as China and Vietnam over their contradictory claims to islands in East China Sea.

Even Singapore and South Korea have been roped into the US security umbrella. Most Asian countries even as they argue that China will inevitably replace the United States as the top regional power, have grown concerned at how quickly that shift is occurring, and what China the superpower may look like. The Obama administration is keen to capitalize on apprehensions regarding China. His efforts to bolster a third rate economy like India is a cause for concern by other Asian states. Where US officials used to speak of China as the Asian economic giant, they now speak of India and China as twin giants. And they make clear which one they believe has a closer affinity to the United States. “India and the United States have never mattered more to each other,” Mrs. Clinton said. “As the world’s two largest democracies, we are united by common interests and common values.” China is fully integrated into the global economy, and all of its neighbours are eager to deepen their ties with it. China has fought no wars since a border skirmish with Vietnam three decades ago, and it often emphasizes that it has no intention of projecting power through the use of force. India is promoting itself throughout the region as a counterweight to China. India’s Defence Ministry has sought military contacts with a host of Asian nations while massively expanding contacts and weapons procurements from the United States, Israel and Russia. The United States, American officials said, has conducted more exercises in recent years with India than with any other nation. The Chinese perceived the Hanoi meeting as a gang attack on them and President Obama’s visit to the region confirms their fears. Under the circumstances, the Daily Mail opines that trying to encircle China is a flawed foreign policy and will prove counterproductive – Dailymailnews