News / Asia

Pyongyang Furthers US Strategic Goals to China's Dismay

Sgt. Lauren Colantropo (L) and Cpl. Andrew Allen re-install an infrared radar sensor on a fighter jet aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in Subic Bay, Philippines, in this October 7, 2012 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.Sgt. Lauren Colantropo (L) and Cpl. Andrew Allen re-install an infrared radar sensor on a fighter jet aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in Subic Bay, Philippines, in this October 7, 2012 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
x
Sgt. Lauren Colantropo (L) and Cpl. Andrew Allen re-install an infrared radar sensor on a fighter jet aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in Subic Bay, Philippines, in this October 7, 2012 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
Sgt. Lauren Colantropo (L) and Cpl. Andrew Allen re-install an infrared radar sensor on a fighter jet aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in Subic Bay, Philippines, in this October 7, 2012 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
Reuters
Nobody but Kim Jong Un knows what he hopes to achieve with his saber-rattling campaign, but the young North Korean leader probably didn't set out to aid the United States, the sworn enemy of three generations of Kims, at the expense of his country's main ally, China.
       
In a boon for U.S. policy that can only add to China's frustration with Kim, North Korean bellicosity has helped reinforce an American strategy of rebalancing its security policies toward the Asia-Pacific region.

To a China that often sounds more wary of Washington than of Pyongyang, months of North Korean missile and nuclear tests followed by a daily stream of bloodthirsty war threats may be worrisome, but the U.S. reaction is even more troubling.
       
"We understand what kind of regime North Korea is, but we also understand that North Korea is playing games,'' said Sun Zhe, director of the Center for U.S-China Relations at Beijing's Tsinghua University.
       
"Most importantly, we are complaining that the United States is using military drills as an excuse to continue to do this [rebalancing], putting up B-2s and other advanced weapons systems,'' he said.
       
B-2 and B-52 bombers, radar-evading F-22s and anti-missile system vessels like the USS John S. McCain represented the initial U.S. response to North Korea's repeated, explicit threats to launch nuclear strikes against the United States.
       
The U.S. also said it would shift THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System) to defend Guam from missile attack. And Tokyo's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said Japan would permanently deploy Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) anti-missile systems in Okinawa to counter North Korean missiles.

China laments chaos for 'self gain'

The U.S. deployments, although focused on North Korea and mostly temporary, could be adapted or expanded to counter the extensive array of anti-access military capabilities Beijing has built up to delay or prevent the arrival of American forces to areas near China in the event of conflict.
       
Chinese President Xi Jinping may have underscored Chinese ambivalence when he did not specifically name North Korea when he said no country "should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain.''

Xi's remarks at the Davos-like Bo'ao Forum on the Chinese island of Hainan might have been targeting Washington as well as Pyongyang, reflecting Chinese unease at the U.S. "rebalancing'' or "pivot'' policy of winding down wars in Southwest Asia and paying renewed attention to the Asia-Pacific region.
      
"In China, it's widely believed that the pivot is a containment strategy of China. Almost everyone sees it as that,'' Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, a Beijing-based China analyst for the International Crisis Group.

In a talk in Washington explaining the rebalancing policy and the Pentagon's response to North Korea, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter did not mince words in addressing Chinese complaints.

"North Korea's behavior is causing not just the United States, but others in the region to take action,'' he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"If the Chinese find [in] them the kinds of things they don't like to see, there's an easy way to address that, which is to talk to the North Koreans about stopping these provocations,'' said Carter.
 
Diplomatic challenge for Kerry

Carter was forceful and unapologetic in presenting the rebalancing as a continuation of post-war U.S. policy that allowed allies Japan and South Korea, followed by Southeast Asia, China and India "to develop politically and economically in a climate that has been free from conflicts.''
      
"It's good for us and it's good for everyone in the region. And it includes everyone in the region. It's not aimed at anyone, no individual country or group of countries,'' he said.
  
Carter said the coming drawdown of forces from Afghanistan would allow the U.S. Navy to shift to the Pacific region surface combatant ships, carriers and other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance vessels.
       
Analysts who accept the rebalancing as based on sound geo-strategic principles nevertheless say Pentagon statements and force deployments should not be the most visible face of the Obama administration's core Asia policy.
       
"We've oversold the military and undersold the diplomatic and economic components of the integrated strategy of the rebalance,'' said Douglas Paal, a former U.S. official who heads Asian Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
       
"The reaction we're getting from China is 'they're coming to get us, we've got to respond, we've got to step up our military development,''' he said.
       
When Secretary of State John Kerry visits China, Japan and South Korea later this week in his first trip to the region as the top U.S. diplomat, he will need to adjust his rebalancing sales pitch to China while he engages in Korea crisis diplomacy.
       
That will be a tall order in Beijing, where new President Xi is consolidating his rule with a political and military elite that is highly suspicious of U.S. motives.
   
"When the economic, political and cultural elements were tacked on to the pivot, the Chinese said 'oh, so now we're being encircled economically, politically and culturally, too,'' said Kleine-Ahlbrandt.
       
"The problem with trying to disabuse someone of a conspiracy theory is that any argument you make becomes part of the conspiracy, so I don't know if it's possible to convince the Chinese that it's not about encircling them,'' she said.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs