Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Pacific China Century?

[above: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveils Asia's new mascot, a barking poodle. "Calm down," she told an audience of angry journalists. "The rights to Hello Kitty were just too expensive. And the dog won't seem as stupid once you've started drinking."]

Newly minted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is taking her first trip abroad, and for the first time since the 1960s, the Secretary's initial trip will be to Asia.

She is assuring Tokyo and Seoul, two historic allies who have taken a beating in Obama's economic speeches (specifically because Japanese and Koreans don't buy as many Fords, Chryslers, and GM vehicles as Americans do Hondas, Toyotas, Hyundais, and Kias), that ties will remain strong and FTAs will move forward, but the BBC reports that China is the focus of not only this trip, but perhaps Obama's Asia policy as a whole:
The US secretary of state will then move on to Jakarta, followed by Seoul. But her final stop, Beijing, will be at the heart of the tour, our correspondent adds.

When she was running for president last year, Mrs Clinton wrote an article outlining her foreign policy in which she stated that America's relationship with China would be the most important bilateral relationship in the world this century.

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, Mrs Clinton said there were real opportunities to develop a good relationship with Beijing on issues such as climate change and clean energy.

And in a speech the same day, she said Asian links were a priority. "I hope to signal that we need strong partners across the Pacific, just as we need strong partners across the Atlantic," she told the Asia Society in New York.
It's good to make inroads with China. It's good to make China not fear that the United States is trying to choke it off. It's good if China can be nudged toward becoming a normal nation that respects human rights and does not try to browbeat its neighbors.

But don't forget that Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are the long-time allies who share the democratic values of the United States, and they continue to need the Pax Americana specifically and a balanced and attentive America in general.

As my cousin so eloquently put it: Don't neglect that special someone who was there to hold your hair back while you throw up into the toilet just because someone new has caught your eye.

Yeah, what he said. (That last line was to see if anyone's paying attention.)

1 comment:

  1. I think you're right. I'm so sick of hearing the China hype. I do have to say that I'm curious what carrots and sticks we're going to come up with to get the Chinese to "normalize."


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