The Obama administration has adopted a tougher tone with China in recent weeks as part of a diplomatic balancing act in which the United States welcomes China’s rise in some areas but also confronts Beijing when it butts up against American interests.
Faced with a Chinese government increasingly intent on testing U.S. strength and capabilities, the United States unveiled a new policy that rejected China’s claims to sovereignty over the whole South China Sea. It rebuffed Chinese demands that the U.S. military end its longtime policy of conducting military exercises in the Yellow Sea. And it is putting new pressure on Beijing not to increase its energy investments in Iran as Western firms leave.
The U.S. maneuvers have prompted a backlash among Chinese officialdom and its state-run press, which has accused the United States of trying to contain China. Yang Jiechi, the minister of foreign affairs, issued a highly unusual statement Monday charging that the United States was ganging up with other countries against China. One prominent academic, Shen Dingli of Fudan University, compared the planned U.S. exercises in international waters of the Yellow Sea to the 1962 Russian deployment of nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba.