China’s rapid economic growth and steady military modernization are transforming power relations across Asia. In recent weeks, Beijing has reached out to its old rival, New Delhi, courted Taiwanese opposition parties and fanned old grievances against Japan. This comes on top of the long-term deals that Chinese diplomats have been signing to give Beijing special access to the raw materials of Southeast Asia and Australia.
It’s time for the United States to take more notice. America may still be Asia’s dominant military power, but its economic role is receding as China advances. Unfortunately, Asian policy, long a stepchild for the Bush administration, has been further marginalized, thanks to the exit of the State Department’s most respected Asia hands, Richard Armitage and Mitchell Reiss. Paul Wolfowitz’s move to the World Bank leaves a similar void at the Pentagon.