The idea that the USA is seeking to contain China has evoked various sentiments. Some people believe that the actions of the US reveal an attempt to contain China while others believe that the USA has no interest in containing China. On the one hand, the idea that this federal republic could, in fact, be attempting to contain China is fueled by the responses that the USA has had certain activities related to China all over the world. On the other hand, there are those who suggest that the USA is protecting its own interests. As a result, it is forced to react in ways that may seem like an attempt to contain People’s Republic of China. However, there are official claims that containment of this country has never been an objective of the USA.
Those who support the ideology of containment have several reasons for it. One of the major reasons why the US would decide to contain PRC is a response to the rise in Chinese military supremacy. The rise of PRC is said to have been on the American radar since the beginning of the 1990’s. The US strategy in response to the Chinese rise in military power is based on the traditionally used tools of military supremacy. These very tools were engaged in an attempt to counter the great power rise of China. There have been numerous calls for containment, and the United States aimed to copy the strategy that was used against the Soviet during the Cold War. This involves the assembly of a coalition that comprises powerful states whose interest is to control the rise of China. There is also an essential idea that the US should increase its security relations with Japan. However, it should simultaneously reinforce the Japanese-American alliance with the mission to stop China. Choosing this option, the US will have to commit to boost the capability of the Taiwanese military. Additionally, other advocates of containment suggest that the United States should engage in more radical means of containing PRC, such as covert operations that are aimed at destabilizing of this sovereign state. In order to do this, they propose that the US should look for means of fomenting cases of unrest among the numerous ethnic minorities that exist in China.
Proponents of the containment policy also consider counterbalancing the excesses that come along with the expansion of China as a major reason why it should be contained. The rapid growth of PRC has greatly changed the economic platform, especially for the USA. Such country’s progress has seen a dramatic increase in trade competition as well as opportunities for investment within the developing economies. Furthermore, it has led to a need for fundamental adjustments in the structure of major industrial economies. Chinese economic boom has been evident since the 1980’s. The fact that China is gradually becoming the world’s largest exporter turned into a worrying trend for the US. The US feels that PRC is gradually edging its dominance out. For instance, the penetration and influence of China on developing African countries has become evident. China has been able to produce en masse products that were manufactured in the US. The Chinese have then engaged the US in a stiff competition as their products are much cheaper than goods in the USA. Therefore, they are preferred for import among many developing countries. Additionally, during the financial crisis, the assertive role played by China against its neighbors increased the clamor for a more counterbalancing role of the US.
It is also argued that the US seeks to contain China in order to control the spread of Chinese influence and policies, especially on matters dealing with human rights. According to the former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the USA was a developed country while China was on its development path and, consequently, the US was attempting to work with it to make China an active and major contributor to the stability, global security and prosperity of the world. However, she claimed that the US was making an effort to achieve those goals without coming into a state of rivalry, unnecessary competition or conflict. Owing to containment of China, the US can be able to ensure that the Chinese polices are also regulated and curbed from spreading to other nations.
The rise of PRC greatly undermines the international authority of the US. Having been considered the world superpower for decades, the rapid and unexpected rise of China posed a threat to the international position of the USA. China not only threatens the military supremacy of the US, but also its socio-economic influence all over the world. This is a main point of concern that pro-containment advocates propose. For a long time, the global hegemony run by the US has gone literally unchallenged. However, the rise of PRC is an obvious threat to this position. This has forced the US to form treaties with countries in East Asia in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the Chinese influence. The US has, therefore, signed treaties with the Philippines, Australia, South Korea, Thailand and Japan. These interventions by the US are clear indicators of the US interests in containing the supremacy of China and preventing it from hegemony in East Asia.
Nevertheless, there are several advantages in the purpose to contain China. The rise of China into a military powerhouse is evident. Containment of China will create a future enemy for the US. The current involvement of America in situations of conflict that involve China is a worrying trend. The conflict between Beijing and Vietnam is an issue that has annoyed China due to the international involvement. This is dangerous as both countries, especially the US, have numerous interests in each other, and constrained diplomatic relations will only result in dire consequences.
Additionally, the US does not seek to contain China as it will constrain its own international relations. Despite the prominence of the USA in Southeast Asia, the countries, which belong to this subregion are highly ambivalent. In the South China Sea dispute, the USA’s declaration of involvement was opposed by China as well as several Southeast Asian countries. The countries preferred taking much riskier option of negotiating the conflict with China rather than involving the USA. Such decision was taken because countries in the ASEAN block are wary of being locked in a Cold War-like struggle between the US and China that will force them to choose sides. If the US continues with containment policies and activities, even the remaining ties it has with East Asia could be severed.
Since the 1990’s, the economic influence of China has become evident. However, the Chinese economic influence, especially in Asia, was consolidated when the region was hit by a financial crisis between 1997 and 1998. Through the Free Trade Agreement that was set between Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, the economic influence of China in the region has been able to grow dramatically. For a majority of the ASEAN members, China becomes their largest and most lucrative partner in trade. ASEAN, on the other hand, turns into China’s fourth biggest trading block. This mutual relationship has helped to consolidate the Chinese impact in the region. If the US jeopardizes this arrangement by containing PRC, the smaller countries are bound to suffer. Any containment in an attempt to lock out Republic of China or disrupt its activities would result in major trade constraints for the participating countries. Australia also has the reason to be highly dependent on the Chinese market. For instance, the Australian mining industry is flourishing owing to the demand from China.
The USA would create a high sense of insecurity and military uncertainty if its plan to contain China were brought into action. The recent declaration by the Obama administration has raised concerns as its evident target is the Far East. It stated that foreign and defense policies of the United States will “pivot” to Asia. The USA has acknowledged the fact that China has the best chance to compete militarily against the US. Furthermore, it has the capability of fielding some of the most lethal and disruptive military technologies. With time, it has been projected that they will be able to offset the military advantage enjoyed by the USA. If the USA contains China and offsets the diplomatic relationship between them, there is bound to be a heightened sense of insecurity all over the world. This will have negative impact on economic growth and development of both countries, as well as those states that they are affiliated with.
Finally, the US does not seek to engage China in a containment exercise as it would gradually build tension that precedes post-war and Cold War-like conflicts. Such conflicts end up in constraints, such as trade sanctions. That kind of actions will not be to the advantage of any of the two nations.
Conclusively, the USA’s containment of China is bound to precipitate more problems than offer solutions. Ultimately, there will be rampant conflicts, disruption of trade as well as negative socio-economic influences. On the contrary, the USA should seek means of working together with China to ensure that its growth is controlled and remains beneficial to developing countries. This will help avert any conflicts that may arise between the two countries. Moreover, they may be able to work together for each other’s benefit.