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
"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
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.