by IAN WEISSGERBER
NANJING — China’s maritime development is an issue that has been ever present, but which in recent years has drawn a greater spotlight. With the issue over the Diaoyu Islands, and the hegemonic trends in the South China Sea, China has begun naval expansion, and increased its overall global presence. In this, U.S.-Sino relations have also been side issues. For issues in the Pacific, now more than ever, have greater global consequences. Therefore, as the United States increases its presence in the Asia Pacific, and with the APEC Summit having just ended, the world waits in wonder to see what the future of U.S.-Sino relations will be, and what it will mean for the international community.
As the Obama Administration has strengthened their “pivot” towards the Asia Pacific, the world has seen increased tension. This area is currently one of, if not the most important, regions in the world today. And China is in a position to rise as the most influential state if done in the correct manner. If China does not attempt to strongarm other nations, and instead makes soft power moves drawing Asian nations toward them, Beijing could end up exerting more influence within the region than the United States. Furthermore, with peaceful development China could improve the geopolitical situation as a whole. For example, de-escalating rhetoric within the South and East China Seas, and working to improve relations with nations throughout the Asia Pacific could aid in China’s transition from an investment to a consumption economy. Thus, these actions are methods through which Beijing could exert influence while benefitting the international community.
Going forward, therefore, one must wonder whether maritime expansion will continue to be a cause of concern? Or will the two powerhouse nations of the United States and China slowly be able to reconcile certain differences, and work together into the future. For if these two great nations are able to successfully collaborate together in years to come, the world as a whole will be better off.