In his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States would not reduce its safety commitments to its Asian allies even if it had to cut military expenditures because of the burden of the Afghan and Iraq wars. Gates’ comment has raised doubts about the US’ intentions in Asia, says an article in People’s Daily. Excerpts:
The US has been the biggest military force in the Asia-Pacific region since World War II. Though it is experiencing economic difficulties now, no one doubts that it will continue its dominant military presence in the region. But how the US uses its hard and soft power after returning to Asia depends largely on whether it can change its old strategic pattern.
Asia’s emerging economies helped overcome the global financial crisis, and thus made the region the engine of the world economy, changing its role on the international stage. So the role the US will play in Asian affairs would be determined by the changed reality in the region rather than Washington’s global strategy.
The US has to learn to get along with China if it wants its position in Asia to be stable and sound. As a major power leading Asia’s economic development, China has created unprecedented win-win opportunities for the region’s countries. The US has to respect China’s core interests and handle them with discretion. Any US act that harms China’s core interests would not only damage regional stability, but also ruin the hard-won mutual development.
The biggest challenge the US faces in Asia is how to better participate in the region’s cooperation and development. The US should create more opportunities for Asia’s development and new safety mechanisms, for it would only lose its postwar influence in Asia Pacific if it depends on its military strength.