US denies China 'containment'

By Bao Daozu (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-11 06:52
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BEIJING - The United States has reiterated its stance that it will not seek to contain China to appease suspicious countries in the Southeast Asian region, while experts said containment would be against Washington's interests.

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US President Barack Obama once again dismissed widespread speculation that his administration is bent on containing China at a news conference on Tuesday in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, during the second stop of his nine-day trip to Asia.

"We want China to succeed and prosper," Obama said, adding that China's continuous development is good for the US.

In his speech, Obama said the US regards China as "a huge, expanding market, where Americans can sell goods and services", and treats China's prosperity and security as "a positive".

Obama is currently on a four-country tour in Asia - touching down in India, Indonesia, Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan. All these nations are important partners for Washington in the region.

China is the one country Obama is not visiting during the trip, but he will meet with President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the G20 in Seoul later this week.

US efforts to expand relations with Southeast Asian nations also included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent engagement with Malaysia and several neighboring nations, Defense Secretary Robert Gates' talk with his Malaysian counterpart, as well as former US president Bill Clinton's upcoming visit next week.

Following a meeting with a visiting Gates, Malaysian Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that China is his nation's "traditional friend", with a trading relationship dating back thousands of years.

"We do not feel we are being bullied," Hamidi said. "We both need each other."

"We are more comfortable to engage with China rather than to have a sour relationship ... (and) they have a very positive attitude toward us."

Experts in China believe America's so-called containment of Beijing does not reflect the real intentions of the White House.

"Containing China was a US policy taken in the Cold War era. As the global setting has undergone dramatic changes, it is highly unwise of the US to treat China as an adversary," said Tao Wenzhao, a scholar on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

The US also has an interest in cooling the rhetoric of "containing China" as it might arouse unnecessary disputes or irritate Beijing even more, according to Niu Jun, a professor on US studies at Peking University.

In a bid to smooth ties, the Obama administration is also eyeing the strategic partnership by tapping into the younger generation.

John Huntsman, the US ambassador to China, stressed the role of the younger generation in shaping more positive Sino-US ties during a town hall meeting in October concerning current bilateral relations.

One most notable endeavor he mentioned is Obama's announcement of the "100,000 Strong" initiative in November of 2009, a US effort designed to increase sharply the number - and diversify the composition - of American students studying in China, which was officially launched in May in Beijing.

This initiative seeks to prepare the next generation of American experts on China who will be charged with managing the growing political, economic and cultural ties between US and China, Carola McGiffert, director of the initiative, said during a briefing on this project in Beijing on Tuesday.

The need for Americans to gain greater exposure to and understanding of China is clear, according to McGiffert, as "there is perhaps no more important or complex relationship in the world than that between the United States and China in terms of securing global peace and security".

"As China has become the fifth-biggest destination country for American students to study abroad (and) the most popular among developing countries, we are glad to see interest in China is on the rise," she said.

He Wei, Ma Liyao and AP contributed to this story.

China Daily