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Pivot to Asia? What's that?
More Signs China Is Unimpressed by Obama’s Asia “Pivot”

It’s been increasingly clear that China is unimpressed by the ‘pivot to asia.’ The latest sign of this is the news that Beijing has sent more fighter jets to Woody Island in the South China Sea. Stars and Stripes:

China moved 16 Shenyang J-11 advanced fighter aircraft to Woody Island on April 7, said the defense official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly. He said such a large deployment was “unprecedented,” though it’s not the first time China has sent fighter jets to Woody Island, the largest landmass in the Paracel Islands, which are situated in the hotly disputed South China Sea region.

Positioning military aircraft on the island seems to contradict Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vow not to militarize the South China Sea, a statement he made while visiting Washington, D.C. in February.

U.S. officials have said such deployments, alongside the aggressive buildup of manmade islands throughout the South China Sea, threaten stability in the region. They have repeatedly called for China and other countries that claim disputed territory in the South China Sea, a key international shipping route, not to militarize the land in the area.

China doesn’t seem to care very much what the U.S. thinks, suggesting that Beijing doubts Obama’s seriousness of purpose. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is in the Philippines today, trying to give a different impression by announcing the deployment of U.S. troop rotations. But with seemingly every week bringing more reports of complaints about the White House’s cautiousness lodged by top Navy officers, the United States isn’t exactly projecting an image of strength at the moment.

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  • Anthony
  • Bill

    Because China senses a lack of seriousness by the U.S. and decides to act or China is acting on what it sees as one of its fundamental imperative of protecting its maritime approaches and supply chains. Is China emboldened by perceived U.S. weakness or is China acting out because of its own internal weaknesses. The latter seems more likely. China may gain a limited short term military advantage but it’s actions will cause the U.S. to intensify its focus on the region, drive China’s neighbors towards the U.S., and show the world that China’s intentions regarding island building may not be purely economic and benevolent. The pivot isn’t supposed to scare China into restraint. China will do what it feels it has to regardless of any perceived U.S. strength or weakness, it’s just a matter of time and degree, and will be governed much more by its own strengths and weaknesses. And right now many signs point to weakness. When China feels strong it will act incrementally with subtlety and caution using a well thought out carrot and stick approach with its neighbours regarding maritime claims. If China is weakening it will feel the need to act now with boldness, throwing caution to the wind, with the hope of establishing the facts on the ground, gaining all it can before internal forces prevent its ambitions, and bullying its neighbours to appease and distract an internal audience from economic and social ills. The U.S. pivot is an attempt to focus attention and resources on the region, gain partners, strengthen alliances, all as a hedge against China’s worst ambitions. If we can use the rhetoric of a pivot to restrain China,then great, but China will likely act regardless of perceived U.S. strength or weakness and especially rhetoric. But the real goal of the pivot is to incrementally and with subtlety and some caution enhance our position in the region offering carrots to China, and its neighbours, but quietly brandishing a stick without, unless absolutely necessary, starting a war.

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