Recently, there has been a media blitz both in the United States and beyond about the nation's "return to the Pacific" and the advent of an "American Pacific Century."
Though the United States has never left the region—it has had a presence in the Asia-Pacific for more than 200 years—the notion of a U.S "return" to the region is prevalent.
It was U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who told the world that "the United States is back in Southeast Asia." Over the coming decade, she said, one of the priorities of American statecraft will be "to lock in a substantially increased investment—diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise—in the Asia-Pacific region."
Washington's strategic re-engagement in the Asia-Pacific and reorientation of geostrategic priorities from Afghanistan and Iraq to Asia are changing the status quo in the Asia-Pacific region and altering the existing balance of power. It will very likely touch upon China's national interests, deepen strategic misperceptions and affect Sino-U.S. relations.
However, judging from the past China-U.S. relations during the Obama administration, Washington does not simply identify Beijing as an opponent or threat, but often as a partner. Therefore, we cannot interpret Washington's expanded presence in the Asia-Pacific solely as a counterbalance to China's rising power in the region.
China has adhered to an independent and peaceful foreign policy. We hope the United States can play a constructive role and respect China's core interests in the Asia-Pacific region. And China is confident that any problem between the biggest developed country and largest developing country can be solved through cooperation instead of confrontation.
Just as Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said recently, the Pacific is wide enough for both China and the United States to coexist and cooperate. Only through international cooperation, mutual respect and benefit, can China and the United States bring peace and prosperity to their peoples, as well as those in the Asia-Pacific region.
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