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China Says There’s Good Reason For US Pacific Pivot, But Americans Won’t Like It

REUTERS/Bobby Yip

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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China said today that the real reason for America flexing its muscles in Korea is growing fear of an impending decline.

America’s willingness to push forward on the “controversial deployment” of the Terminal High-Altitude Aerial Defense (THAAD) system “betrayed Washington’s deep-rooted Cold War mentality and its petty anxiety over the United States’ declining global hegemony,” reported Xinhua News Agency, a state-sponsored newspaper.

Another recent report from the PLA Daily said that America’s determination to install THAAD on the Korean peninsula proves that the U.S. is sick. Apparently, we have “hegemonic anxiety disorder.”

Washington argues that the planned THAAD deployment in South Korea, which was officially confirmed last month, is to protect the U.S. and its allies from missile threats emanating from the belligerent Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Despite American reassurances, China continues to express concern over THAAD. China’s primary argument against this missile defense system is that the missile shield is designed to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles and does nothing to prevent the DPRK from using short-range missiles to launch an attack on the Republic of Korea (ROK), which suggests that THAAD may be designed for other purposes.

THAAD’s X-band radar extends over 1,200 miles, and China argues that it will allow the U.S. to peer into Chinese and Russian territories, collect radar data on Chinese and Russian warheads and strategic missiles, and effectively cripple each country’s nuclear deterrent. China claims that the THAAD deployment will negatively impact the regional balance of power in Northeast Asia and threaten Chinese and Russian national security.

For years now, China has been arguing that the world is shifting towards multipolarity and is entering into the “post-American era,” and many Chinese criticisms regarding the pivot to Asia have presented the U.S. as a declining power attempting to contain a China which is peacefully rising.

In a commentary produced by author Zhong Sheng, which translates to “Chinese Voice” and is said to represent official Chinese views, the Sheng affirmed that China will never compromise its security interests. “No one can underestimate China’s resolution and strength to safeguard its national security as it never fears external threats,” the article reads.

For years, Chinese scholars and military officials have been pushing China to replace the U.S. as the dominant power globally or in Asia. For instance, in his 2010 book China’s Dream: Major Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in a Post-American Era, Senior Colonel Liu Mingfu asserts, “To save itself, to save the world, China must prepare to become the world’s helmsman.”

China regularly refers to the U.S. as a “paper tiger.” In fact, in a recent Chinese article on U.S. plans for the Korean peninsula, the author wrote that “America’s ‘paper tiger’ mask looks frightening, but it doesn’t take much to poke a hole in it. We have no need to be afraid.”

While China may downplay American power, Chinese concerns and consistently-negative rhetoric over plans for the deployment of THAAD in South Korea do far more to highlight Chinese fears that it may not achieve its grandiose ambitions.

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