Gates in China

CHINA’S unprecedented growth both militarily and economically and its growing regional interests appear to have alarmed the US. To pursue its own strategic imperatives, US President Obama has dispatched his Defence Secretary Robert gates to Beijing, to hold talks with Chinese officials ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States. Reportedly, Robert Gates has a full agenda, as he is reportedly discussing North Korea, regional security issues and Iran. If US media is to be lent credence, Chinese maritime development is likely to be brought into focus since it is a cause of concern for the US. The visit of Robert Gates to Beijing is to indicate that China and the US are having military talks; however, the talks between the two get derailed, every time the US makes defence sales to Taiwan. The US should take cognizance of Chinese sensitivities with respect to Taiwan since the interruption of the dialogue between China and US is perceived as somewhat damaging to the establishment of better relationships, but also the ability of each side to maintain a closer watch of what’s going on in the othercountry.Interestingly, the tour itinerary of Robert Gates indicates that after China, he would be visiting South Korea and Japan, both staunch US allies but wary of Chinese growth. It may be noted that Chinese economic growth has recently surpassed the Japanese and is now second only to the US and if it maintains its current growth rate, in the next fourteen years, is likely to surge ahead of the US too.Robert Gates is likely share the contents of his high level discussions in China with South Korea and Japan. South Korea has been openly questioning Chinese support of its arch rival North Korea. It is no coincidence that China’s neighbours and rivals in the region are US allies. Collectively they have been watching the military developments of China with awe. There has been a lot of talk recently about the Chinese military improvements, about Chinese development of anti-ship ballistic missiles, talk and rumours of the Japanese press of the Chinese removing their non-first strike nuclear policy, and these have raised a lot of concerns—not only in the regional media but also in the United States.

The Chinese have shifted recently their attention, though, from what traditionally was a focus on the ground forces to a focus on more modern technology and particularly on creating greater stand-off distance on their coast. The Daily Mail believes that this not a recent development. The Chinese have a long-standing policy of building defensive buffers around their core territory; the maritime frontier is now where they see the most security threat and where they see themselves needing to establish themselves. If the US feels threatened by this push out, i.e. it runs square into a U.S. strategic imperative of maintaining secure and clear open sea lanes, because the United States feels it vital to be able to position itself anywhere on the globe in case of conflict and also to pre-empt conflict from coming to the United States, then it is its own ethnocentric perception. As China is growing economically, it feels it is more secure politically, thus it is pushing its own regional interests and those interests may appear to run a collision course to what would be a strategic imperative for the United States. The US and Russia are still developing their versions of a stealth fighter but China flight tested its Stealth fighter while Mr. Gates was calling on the Chinese President Hu Jintao.As Robert Gates’ visit to China unfolds, the world will be watching eagerly. Pakistan hopes that the two sides come to a better understanding instead of moving further and further apart. The world needs the two giants to be forging ties of consideration instead of enmity – Dailymailnews