The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Game of Thrones US Warns China: Don’t Pull a Crimea

The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia issued a stern warning to Beijing yesterday: Don’t even think about using force to annex islands in the South China Sea, as Russia did in Crimea.

“The prospect of the kind of incremental retaliatory steps that are gradually being imposed on Russia in terms of its banks, in terms of cronies and other areas should have a chilling effect on anyone in China who might contemplate the Crimea annexation as a model,” Daniel Russel said. “The net effect is to put more pressure on China to demonstrate that it remains committed to the peaceful resolution of the problems.”

“The president of the United States and the Obama administration is firmly committed to honoring our defense commitments to our allies,” he continued.

China has been paying attention to the West’s response Russia, which has so far included nothing more than anemic sanctions and the categorical ruling-out of the military option. And sanctioning China is riskier for the U.S. than sanctioning Russia is, as Gideon Rachman writes in the Financial Times: “In theory, the U.S. could restrict the imports of Chinese goods – or even, in extremis, use the US navy to block China’s energy imports. But, like the Russians, the Chinese would have plenty of economic weapons with which to retaliate, from the disruption of the supply chains of American corporations to a refusal to buy U.S. Treasury bills.”

On his upcoming trip to Asia, President Obama is expected to reassure America’s allies in Asia that the U.S. will support them, and with deeds as well as words. As they grow increasingly nervous about China, the President will have his work cut out for him.

Published on April 4, 2014 3:36 pm
  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “President Obama is expected to reassure America’s allies in Asia that the U.S. will support them”

    Who’s going to trust a “Lead from Behind” liar like Obama? If he doesn’t move serious forces into the area, such that China becomes screaming mad, it will all be meaningless. He has tip toed putting marines into Australia which is thousands of miles away because China bitched about it. If he provides only a token effort, which seems likely, the Asians are only going to get even more worried.

  • Andrew Allison

    ““The president of the United States and the Obama administration is [sic] firmly committed to honoring our defense commitments to our allies,” he continued.” As in the Budapest Memorandum?

  • Boritz

    ” Don’t even think about using force to annex islands in the South China Sea, as Russia did in Crimea.”

    What is the long-term difference between the U.S. issuing such a warning and say The Netherlands doing the same?

  • Corlyss

    Right. I’m sure the Sinos are quaking in their boots. Wait! . . . . . is that gales of laughter I hear, wafting across the wide Pacific waters . . . . . .?

    • Fred

      Gee, I don’t know Corlyss, President Gelding sure scares the hell outa me. Nobody gives a “harsh condemnation” like our dear leader. And to paraphrase Custer in “Little Big Man,” NOTHING is more surprising than the condemnation without mercy!

      • Corlyss

        Love that “President Gelding!” May I borrow it, with attribution of course?

        • Fred

          Help yourself.

  • Fat_Man

    China replies: “ROTFLMAO”.

  • Jim__L

    We need either a proxy war, or a serious evaluation of (and then determined action upon) what in the 21st century we can do, to pursue diplomacy “by another means”.

    Full-on cyber war? (Are our defenses prepared?) It’s the only thing that comes to mind. It’s very late, maybe something will occur to me after sleeping on it.

    If anyone else has any ideas I’d be interested in hearing them.

    • Corlyss

      Forget it! Obama doesn’t believe in any kind of war except the full out one he’s waging against Republicans.

      • Jim__L

        Our government — our country — is more than just Obama.

        He can only be worked around with great difficulty, but he can be worked around.

        • Corlyss

          From where? From what compelling power base? Certainly not Congress with that evil troll Reid sitting like a vulture over the Senate.
          As far as Obama is concerned, the nation of Worthies does not include anyone with an R behind his name, politician or citizen. For him Obamanation consists solely of the left and conservative native-borns cannot immigrate into it.

  • JohnOfEnfield

    Another red line. I guess that socked it to ‘em!