Sunday, November 23, 2014

“Xi and his colleagues believe that the gravitational force of China’s economy will pull Australia into its political and strategic orbit and keep it there.”

Hugh White

Said : Hugh White, Professor of Strategic Studies in the School of International, Political & Strategic Studies at the Australian National University (Lowy Institute), as quoted in Jane Perleznov's news analysis published in The New York Times of November 22, 2014.  

While Prof. Hugh White specializes in Australian strategic and defence policy; Asia Pacific security; global security, Jane Perlez is the chief diplomatic correspondent in the Beijing bureau of The New York Times. She covers China and its foreign policy, particularly relations between the United States and China, and their impact on the Asian region.

Jane Perleznov
Jane describes the recent visits of Xi Jinping to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji as "Asia’s ‘Big Guy’ Spreads Cash and Seeks Influence in Pacific Region," the title of her news analysis. According to her : "Everywhere Mr. Xi went, he left a trail of money, a bounty aimed at showcasing China as the dominant economic power in Asia." According to Jane when Mr. Xi said :“We have every reason to go beyond a commercial partnership to become strategic partners who have a shared vision and pursue common goals,” he was trying to entice Australia, one of America’s closest intelligence-sharing allies, away from its more than half-century alliance with Washington. Already, Mr. Xi and the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, have declared the completion of a China-Australia free trade pact, 10 years in the making, that will open China’s markets to Australian beef, dairy products and other products. It seems that President Obama's warning to America’s ally not to get too close to China has been ignored by Australians.

China has committed to spend $20 billion for loans and infrastructure for the 10 countries in the Association for Southeast Asian Nations besides $40 billion for a Silk Road infrastructure fund in Central and East Asia. In the tiny Pacific island of Fiji, Mr. Xi committed financial support for strengthening economic and strategic ties including defence cooperation with Pacific island nations. Mr. Xi also offered visa exemptions for Fijians travelling to China. A Chinese cultural centre will also be established in Fiji. In exchange Prime Minister Mr. Bainimarama said: "China had been "a true friend of Fiji" and had never interfered in Fiji's internal politics. Fiji wanted China to be fully engaged in the Pacific." China is already under American attack for its assertive behavior in strategic South China Sea waters.
In 2011 Hillary Clinton, then America’s secretary of state, explained President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia in an article in Foreign Policy: “We all know that fears and misconceptions linger on both sides of the Pacific. Some in our country see China’s progress as a threat to the United States; some in China worry that America seeks to constrain China’s growth. We reject both those views.” China’s president, Xi Jinping, at a meeting with Mr Obama in California last year, responded in kind: “The vast Pacific Ocean has enough space for the two large countries of China and the United States.” (Source)
Hugh White, in a different post, has provided the answer to the question: "Why China and America are Headed Toward a Catastrophic Clash?"

"China is trying to build what President Xi Jinping calls "a new model of great power relations under which he wants China to wield much more power and influence in Asia than it has for the past few centuries. These things are inherently zero-sum, so for China to have more power and influence, America must have less. This is what Xi and his colleagues are trying to achieve."

Indeed, the G-20 summit in Australia provided world leaders an opportunity to show-case their policies and power to contribute to the world prosperity i.e. their capability to politically influence the socio-economic world order. With the near isolation of Russia's Putin and apparently weakening Obama, China has emerged as the only world power with huge amount of Vitamin-W (Wealth) needed by a good number of US allies for venturing into their own gigantic to-do-list. While the West is trying to maintain its fading power under the leadership of the United States, many alliance partners are finding it difficult to resist the mouth-watering temptation of China's economic capacity and desire to have partnerships with them that go beyond just the economic ones.     

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