At present and in recent past it has been first and foremost aim of US foreign policy to contain the People’s Republic of China and diminish its economic, military and political strengths in the Asian continent
In general, there are many dimensions -national, regional and international of world politics, which determine its current and future movements. Although, their single motivating factor is fulfilment and promotion of national interests, but world politics causes competition, rivalry and enmity among contending nations that also affect politics of the regions and nations as well. The politics among nations is becoming increasingly hostile day by day for their dominance and supremacy. The end of Second World War in 1945 clearly gave birth to such a harsh competition between the United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) and it continued for decades. It divided the world into two large camps- one led by the USA while the other by the USSR. The decade-long Cold War between the two Super Powers ended at the close of 1980s and early 1990s with the disintegration of Soviet Union. Even during the phase of Cold War, the region Asia remained an arena of influence between them and nations of the Continent were divided on ideological lines- Capitalism and Communism. After Soviet Union the USA turned its face towards the Peoples Republic of China. Now, the economic and defence strength and progress of China became a major concern for the USA and its policy makers and for its supremacy retention in Asia it adopted a containment policy against China at regional and global levels.
Policy perceptions of USA
At present and in recent past it has been first and foremost aim of US foreign policy to contain the People’s Republic of China and diminish its economic, military and political strengths in the Asian continent. As the policy was well articulated and implemented against the USSR, now the USfeels no trouble in implementing the same against the PRC. Thus, the natural demand of the policy includes a weak, divided and disturbed China to continue US hegemony in Asia. To accomplish this multifaceted strategy America has already started establishing military, economic and diplomatic ties with countries adjacent to China’s borders and going a step further, it has also frustrated China’s alliance-building efforts and economic partnership with China’s neighbours and other countries of the area.Even earlier in the phase of Cold War the US had launched a global campaign against the spread of Communism and remained a critic of its ideology. The People’s Republic of China was also included in its strategy and Washington’s interventions in Vietnam,Cambodia and Laos must be seen in the context. According to RobertMcNamara the long-drawn containment policy of the US was also directed against China in addition to USSR along with its satellite States such as Japan-Korea front, India -Pakistan front and Southeast Asia front.In recent and especially from the year 2006 when Quadrennial Defense Review stated in detail about the Chinese capabilities in different spheres and the world knew least because PRC is a closed country and not open like the US. The journal also disclosed that in many fields China is not far behind the US and its real power is near competing. This disclosure was an eye-opener for the US who enjoyed a closer economic and outwardly warmer with China after the collapse of USSR.
Recent orientation and implementation
It was only after due consideration and knowing all facts and figures about China the US from the year 2011 openly launched its policy of containing and encircling the PRC. The President Obama’spolicy of “pivot” towards Asia emphasised country’s role in Asia and winding up its global engagementssuch as from War in Iraq, withdrawal of troops and military assets in the Middle East and Persian Gulf region and redeploying them in the Asia- Pacific. On the other hand, the Chinese government was also conscious enough about new open policy of the US and saidthat the “pivot” toward Asia policy of the US has renewed the Cold War-era containment policy. Although, in the light of changed US policy China tried to open its dialogue on South China Sea but America refused to talk on the issue because several countries of the region had also complained about Chinese expansionist designs in the region. In the region there are several countries that support the US policy of containment as a counterbalance to China’s excesses. They are also fearful about the economic strength of PRC.
The situation or US-China relations worsened further with the coming of Donald Trump as the President of the United States of America. The new President revealed his long- term strategy to deal with the rise of China on the basis of a report of the working group constituted for the purpose in the State Department under its director of planning Kiron Skinner. The report of the study has taken the whole matter as a clash of civilizations. On 29th April 2020, while addressing at the Future SecurityForum, Skinner underlined that the earlier huge fights were within the Western family who shared same heritage and value system but with China there can be no accommodation or co-operation because it is a fight between two different civilizations and a different ideology. He also emphasised the fact that the US is to face a real competitor who is not a Caucasian, or of outside the Western family. In the light of this analysis President Donald Trump has hinted about the thawing of US-Russia relations and also expressed the hope of Russian help in containing the PRC. In addition, the US-led multinational organisations, NGOs and think tank have also launched a campaign to highlight the threats from China under the misrule of the Communist Party of China.
Effects of US policy of containment
The area and effects of the US policy of containment against the People’s Republic of China is enlarging day by day and it includesmilitary strategy, human rights, focus on Hong Kong, economic strategy, defence, trade, Taiwan and strategic alliances with countries hostile to China. Under its military strategy, which is called Indo-Pacific strategy the US has broadly used the countries around China such as South Korea and Japan and is also trying to get India to help contain and diminish Beijing’s influence in Asia. China has thoroughly bad record in human rights violations and America has used this issue to defame China internationally In US considerations, the protests in Hong Kong, rights of Uyghur minorities, victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region are the active cases of violations of human rights concerning China. However, recently the issue of trade war between the two has been in focus when the US began setting its tariffs and trade barriers in 2018keeping in view the growing trade deficits. Especially after the outbreak of coronavirus diseases, originally started from Wuhan, China, the world in general but the US in particular, is the critic of China and closing their businesses in PRC to damage Beijing economically. Thus, there is no doubt in the fact that these steps are harming Chinese economic and trade interests at regional and global levels.
(Author is Professor and Head, University Department of Political Science, B.N. Mandal University, Madhepura, Bihar)