For too long, the U.S. has downplayed China’s increasingly aggressive intentions and actions, hoping to moderate China’s rise. But this approach makes it appear as though the U.S. does not see China as a growing threat, or if America does, it is unwilling or unable to meet that challenge. These impressions have emboldened Beijing and dispirited Washington’s Asian partners. The U.S. must begin accurately and firmly describing the China threat and backing up its tough talk if it wants to deter Chinese adventurism and to convince hedging countries in Asia that it will stand up to Beijing if necessary.
Paul Leaf | All Articles
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Paul J. Leaf is an attorney in Los Angeles, and a former editor of the Stanford Law Review.
TAIPEI, TAIWAN -- Within days of President Obama concluding his recent trip to Asia, which was meant to reinforce America’s commitment there as the Chinese threat grows, China attacked Vietnamese vessels to advance its claim over disputed waters and to test Washington’s resolve. A firm, multilateral response is needed to avoid escalation and to demonstrate that China’s combativeness pushes its adversaries together and closer to the U.S.
China’s build-up of offensive strike capabilities and its unilateral assertion of territorial claims in the East and South China Seas are raising tensions in Asia. These rising tensions, however, create an opportunity for the U.S. With the right steps, the U.S. can take advantage of China’s overreach by strengthening its ties with regional allies and perhaps even making inroads with countries that are currently more closely aligned with China.