Sun, Sep 07, 2014 - Page 3 News List

US alliances key to thwarting China: report

STAND FIRM:The author said the US could give in to Beijing’s demands, but that would mean its interests, including the territorial integrity of Taiwan, would suffer

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

A new report by a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission urges US President Barack Obama to immediately improve alliances and partnerships in East Asia — including with Taiwan — to help curb Chinese aggression.

It says that Beijing has launched a massive military buildup that is shifting the balance of hard power in the western Pacific.

“They have issued official maps depicting Taiwan and much of their near seas as Chinese territory, accompanied by loud claims of absolute sovereignty. And they refuse arbitration or to resort to international law over their claims,” the report by Jim Talent says.

Along with his place on the US Congressional Commission, Talent is a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation and co-chair of the American Freedom and Enterprise Foundation.

Talent says that Beijing’s territorial claims are being made with the Chinese navy “hovering in the background,” essentially presenting other countries with the choice of acceding to Chinese sovereignty or starting a shooting war.

“It’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer, and there are no signs whatsoever that these actions will stop unless and until the Chinese are confronted with a superior force and clearly defined consequences,” Talent says.

He says that Obama’s “rebalance” to Asia is failing for want of power, and allies can see “that America is becoming weaker, while China grows strong.”

Talent says that in theory, the US could “[i]kowtow[/i]” to China, but that would require sacrificing interests the US has regarded as vital — the territorial integrity of Taiwan, US treaty commitments to Japan and the Philippines, and the peaceful resolution of disputes according to international norms.

No one knows what China would do with its sphere of influence once they officially had one, but as of now they are extending their combat reach to include the US territory of Guam, Talent writes in the report.

The report says that Washington could continue on its present course, presenting itself as an obstacle to Beijing’s ambitions without achieving the level of power and purpose necessary to deter them.

However, the report recommends that the US enforce its rebalance policy and pursue it as a long-term strategy “with vigor and purpose.”

Talent says this would require a bipartisan consensus sufficient to sustain the policy until forces in China either force the communist regime to liberalize or overthrow it.

It would also need an immediate and substantial buildup of allied military power capable of imposing clearly unacceptable costs on China if it pushes too far.

A parallel diplomatic and political effort would be called for to expose China’s strategy, strengthen alliances and partnerships in the region and expose the corruption and human-rights abuses of the Chinese regime at home.

“China would test America’s resolve, early and often and tension would be high — periodic incidents of armed confrontation with the danger of escalation would be possible and perhaps likely,” Talent says.

“America has the ability to preserve the peace and defend its allies and interests in East Asia. The question is whether its leaders can fully recognize the danger and muster the will to act while there is still time,” he adds.

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