Beijing is wary of Obama`s assertive China policy
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Last Updated: Friday, November 18, 2011, 09:12
Beijing: President Barack Obama's sudden moves to contest rising Chinese power are setting this capital on edge, even if in public the response has been muted.

During his ongoing nine-day swing through the Asia-Pacific region, Obama has already unveiled a plan for an expanded US Marines presence in Australia, advocated a new free-trade area that leaves China out, and called on Beijing not to buck the current world order.

The Beijing government is trying to understand the shift, tasking academic experts to review the initiatives and submit options on how to respond.

"The US is overreacting," said Zhu Feng, an international relations expert at Peking University who was asked to study Washington's moves and make recommendations. He said the government may feel bewildered by the Obama initiatives.

Meanwhile, state media are warning of a new US containment strategy.

"The US sees a growing threat to its hegemony from China. Therefore, America's strategic move east is aimed in practical terms at pinning down and containing China and counterbalancing China's development," the official Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary.

Obama told the Australian Parliament on Thursday that the US intends "to deter threats to peace" and will remain an Asia-Pacific power.

Today, Obama will become the first US president to attend a summit of East Asian leaders, a region that China sees as its rightful sphere of influence.

Obama is also pushing for the rapid expansion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a US-backed free trade agreement that so far has drawn mostly smaller countries.

Japan and Canada have expressed interest in joining, while Beijing has been left out.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman called it natural for the US and Australia to improve relations, just as China wants to do with each, but said such improvements "should take into consideration the interests of other countries."

Despite its evident wariness, the Chinese government appears to be in watching mode. Obama has repeatedly said in public remarks that the US welcomes China's rise and wants it to play a role as a responsible power. Both sides have much at stake and their economies, the world's largest and second largest, are deeply intertwined, doing USD 456 billion in trade, overwhelmingly in China's favor.


First Published: Friday, November 18, 2011, 09:10

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