The US’ new defense strategy focused on the Asia-Pacific region is directed at containing China’s rise, the People’s Liberation Army’s newspaper said yesterday in Beijing’s strongest warning yet against the new Pentagon stance.
However, the commentary in the Liberation Army Daily also said China’s sensible response to the US military’s refocus on Asia should be “vigilance” and smart diplomacy, not panic.
The US is “laying out forces across the Asia-Pacific region in advance to contain the rise of China,” the paper’s commentary by Major General Luo Yuan (羅援) said.
Washington’s assertions that the military refocus announced last week is not directed at China are “simply making their real intent all the more obvious.”
“Casting our eyes around we can see that the United States has been bolstering its five major military alliances in the Asia-Pacific region and is adjusting the positioning of its five major military base clusters, while also seeking more entry rights for military bases around China,” Luo wrote. “Who can believe that you are not directing this at China? Isn’t this the return of a Cold War mentality?”
Luo is well-known for his hawkish views and often published in popular Chinese newspapers and online. However, the appearance of his commentary in the Liberation Army Daily, which is heavily vetted as the chief paper of the military, suggests that his latest comments enjoy some level of official endorsement.
On Monday, the Chinese Ministry of Defense told the US to be “careful in its words and actions” after last week announcing the defense rethink that stresses responding to China’s rise by shoring up US alliances and bases across Asia.
The new US strategy promises to boost strength in Asia in an attempt to counter China’s growing ability to check US power in the region, even as US forces draw back elsewhere across the globe.
Under the new strategy, the US would maintain large bases in Japan and South Korea, as well as deploy US Marines, US Navy ships and aircraft to Australia’s Northern Territory.
The strategy also calls for countering potential attempts by China and Iran to block US capabilities in areas such as the South China Sea and the Strait of Hormuz.
China has sought to balance voicing its wariness about the US moves with its desire for steady relations with Washington, especially as both sides grapple with domestic politics this year, when US President Barack Obama faces a re-election fight and the Chinese Communist Party undergoes a leadership handover.
Luo warned against panic.
Instead, Beijing must do a better job at courting friends in the region, charming countries away from the US’ orbit, he wrote.
“In the face of this adjustment in the US strategic focus, we must possess a sense of peril and maintain a high degree of vigilance, but there is no need to be alarmed about the expected,” Luo wrote.