By Deng Zhenghui

Conservative observers in China tend to overestimate the China factor in US foreign and security policies. In their view, every aspect of US foreign policy – the alliance system, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the response to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) – aims to contain China’s rise.

The China-US relationship is a mix of good and bad news: if we ignore the positive part, we easily reach negative conclusions. There are many positive trends in the China-US relationship: increasing interdependence between the two economies, increasing interactions in the security sphere, more frequent contact and exchanges between the two militaries, including China’s participation in RIMPAC, the two memorandums of understanding reached during President Obama’s visit to China last November, and more. These would all be impossible if the United States was containing China.

An objective depiction of US policies in the Asia Pacific needs to treat them as an indispensable part of the overall US strategy to maintain global hegemony. In the Asia Pacific, Washington aims to maintain its superior position in this region, and takes into consideration the policy impact on other regions as well. US policies prepare for any uncertainty that might threaten the US position in the Asia Pacific.

This does not deny the connection between China and US foreign policies, but it draws an indirect, rather than direct, connection between them. The United States has no intention to contain China as a whole, but it opposes Chinese behavior that is perceived as detrimental to US superiority in this region, with behavior referring to the combination of capabilities and intentions. …

The China-US relationship is one area where President Xi may want to leave a legacy, but it is not his only option. Windows of opportunities are short and fragile. If we miss this one, we may lose it.

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Deng Zhenghui ( is Director for Research, China Energy Fund Committee International Center.

Original article published by PacNet. Republished with permission. PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed.

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