China’s state media yesterday stepped up their criticism of the US’ planned strategic shift into Asia, accusing Washington of being a “troublemaker” responsible for mounting tensions in the region.
A commentary in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily echoed the angry comments by the Global Times newspaper on Friday following US President Barack Obama’s announcement that Washington would expand its military presence in Asia.
The US defense strategy was flagged late last year and is a clear sign of US commitment to the region. However, US allies and analysts said that China had nothing to fear from the new policy.
In the commentary, Rear Admiral Yang Yi (楊毅) wrote: “It was clear that the new defense strategy was targeting China and Iran.”
“Since the United States began emphasizing in 2009 its ‘return to Asia,’ a variety of events that have threatened regional security have happened, turmoil in the region has occurred one after the other,” Yang wrote in a front-page commentary. “Anyone with an inkling of strategy in their minds can easily see who the region’s security ‘protector’ is, who is the ‘troublemaker’ for the region’s security.”
Comments in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, a small-circulation edition of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) official paper, do not amount to government policy positions, but broadly reflect official thinking.
China is concerned that Washington’s new defense posture, as it turns away from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is aimed at encircling it.
The Global Times, a popular tabloid with a nationalist bent, said on Friday that China must not give up on its security presence in Asia.
Still, China’s response to the US’ push to shore up its security presence in Asia was largely restrained last year. After disputes with neighbors in 2010 and with an impending succession preoccupying the CCP, Beijing has avoided diplomatic fireworks.
The US has said it would seek to work with China, but would continue to raise security issues, like disputed sovereignty in the South China Sea, through which US$5 trillion in trade sails annually.
The sea is claimed wholly or in part by Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. China is seen as increasingly assertive on the high seas, with several incidents in the region in the past year.