China, not India to be focus of US attention in rising Asia

May 1st, 2008 - 11:16 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Kansas State University
By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 1 (IANS) China will be the focus of American attention in the 21st century with the rise of Asia as China, India, Japan and emerging powers compete for regional influence, the top US intelligence agency suggests. Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger had called the rise of Asia “a shift in the centre of gravity of international affairs from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Indian Oceans,” the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Michael Hayden, noted Wednesday.

“CIA’s own Strategic Intent, which guides our long-term planning, identifies the rise of China and India and the emergence of new economic centres as transformative forces on the geopolitical landscape,” he said addressing 21st century trends in a lecture at Kansas State University.

Over the next decades, continued economic growth, trade, and investment will bring the countries of Asia closer together and give them confidence in international affairs, he said. “Competition for regional influence will characterize the relationships between China, India, Japan, and emerging powers in the region.”

“But China, a communist-led, nuclear state that aspires to - and will likely achieve - great power status during this century, will be the focus of US attention,” Hayden said.

The 20th century, largely defined by the bipolar struggle of the Cold War, ultimately was one of American economic, political, and military domination, the CIA chief said.

In the 21st century, the world will be far more complex, and the capacity of others - both nation-states and non-state actors -to influence world events will grow, he said but made clear he was not suggesting a decline in American influence.

“To the contrary, the United States will remain an international leader - a force for peace, freedom, and prosperity throughout the world, an engine of economic growth and innovation, and a military powerhouse whose capabilities are unmatched.”

Giving his view of where China is headed and what its motivations are, Hayden said: “China is a competitor - certainly in the economic realm, and, increasingly, on the geopolitical stage.

“But China is not an inevitable enemy. There are good policy choices available to both Washington and Beijing that can keep us on the largely peaceful, constructive path we’ve been on for almost 40 years now,” he said.

Noting the remarkable speed and scope of China’s recent military buildup, Hayden said: “While it’s true that these new capabilities could pose a risk to US forces and interests in the region, the military modernisation is as much about projecting strength as anything else.”

“After two centuries of perceived Western hegemony, China is determined to flex its muscle. It sees an advanced military force as an essential element of great power status.

“And it is the Intelligence Community’s view that any Chinese regime, even a democratic one, would have similar nationalist goals, he said.

As important as military strength is to China today, economic development and political stability are just as central to its leaders’ thinking.

“From the US perspective, China’s growing engagement with the rest of the world is driven primarily by two things: a need for access to markets, resources, technology, and expertise, and a desire to assert its influence in the region and with developing countries in other parts of the world” Hayden said.

But even as it aspires to a larger global role, China faces significant domestic challenges and structural weaknesses, the CIA chief said. “Whether China begins to engage the world in ways that are less narrowly focused will greatly influence the US-China relationship in the new century.”

“If Beijing begins to accept greater responsibility for the health of the international system - as all global powers should - we will remain on a constructive, even if competitive, path,” Hayden said. “If not, the rise of China begins to look more adversarial.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |