China: Media highly critical of US military strategy, while government remains mum

Updated On: Jan 09, 2012

Chinese media have criticised Obama’s new military strategy, which prescribed a leaner military with a greater focus on the Asia Pacific, calling the US a ‘troublemaker’ who is challenging the ‘protector’ of the region’s security. Experts on China claim the US move is not unexpected, but will nonetheless raise tensions in the region. The Chinese government has yet to declare its official stance on the matter.

Containing China?

There has been little doubt in the mind of experts that the move on the part of Washington was largely targeted at China and its pervasive influence in the region, despite the United States’ official stance of pursuing cooperation with China to ensure prosperity and security in the region. The US has nonetheless raised security issues like the South China Sea, which is disputed by various parties, including China, which is seen by some as having become increasingly assertive at sea.

China has been expanding its naval might with submarines, an aircraft carrier, and increased missile and surveillance capacity, and in response to the US move, some Chinese media are saying the policy should continue. The Global Times claims China must become “more alert”, and “develop more abilities to threaten U.S. domestic military targets.”

US move not surprising, experts say

Various experts are saying that the US move is not as groundbreaking as it may seem.
“It is natural for the US to attach more importance to the Asia Pacific region. It has an increased stake in the region, China is rising and the relationship between China and the US has become more important,” says Jia Qingguo of Beijing University. Russell Leigh Moses, a Beijing-based political analyst, says the US announcement has not necessarily led to increased anxiety or anger on the part of China.”

A retired Chinese military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed that for the Chinese government,“the change in the US strategy is not a sudden development. The Chinese will not regard this as an overt challenge,” and will not change is policy in response, either, even though the media have readily pounced on the US move, warning them not to provoke China.

Criticism from Chinese media

People’s Daily Overseas, a version of the Communist Party’s newspaper for overseas Chinese, has published a commentary where it was said that “anyone with an inkling of strategy…can see who the region’s security ‘protector’ is, [and] who is the ‘troublemaker’.” Xinhua News Agency has warned the US not to ‘flex its muscles,’ and to avoid acting like “a bull in a china shop.” The editorial warns that there will be ‘great opposition’ in the region to US militarism, although it concedes that if properly undertaken, the new strategy would create greater stability in the region, and both parties would benefit.

A number of people have taken offence at one part of a US strategy paper which described potential military threats with Beijing alongside Iran as one of the US’ principal challenges. Previously, former US President Bush referred to Iran as one of a number of countries which make up a new “axis of evil.” Calling China a “security threat” is likely to challenge mutual trust and cause potential military tensions between the two countries, according to Xinhua.

The Chinese government has refrained from commenting on the US strategic review, but it has states earlier that it welcomes the US playing a more positive role in the region, although it opposes US involvement in the South China Sea disputes.

Report: Beijing muted on US Asia-focused defence policy (Financial Times, Jan 8 2012)

Report: China must assert itself despite new US strategy-paper (Reuters News Agency, 6 January 2012)

Commentary: China syndrome dictates Barack Obama’s Asia-Pacific strategy (The Guardian UK, 6 January 2012)

Report: China paper calls U.S. a "troublemaker" for defense strategy (The Chicago Tribune, 6 January 2012)

Report: Chinese media slams US 'look east' policy (Times of India, 8 January 2012)

Report: Obama's new policy may cause military tensions: Chinese media (Economic Times - India Times, 7 January 2012)

Commentary: Constructive U.S. role in Asia-Pacific welcome, but not warmongering(Xinhua, 6 January 2012)

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