Robert D. Kaplan: The Geography of Chinese Power
From an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune by Robert D. Kaplan, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a correspondent for The Atlantic:
Today China’s ambitions are as aggressive as those of the United States a century ago, but for completely different reasons. China does not take a missionary approach to world affairs, seeking to spread an ideology or a system of government. Instead, its actions are propelled by its need to secure energy, metals and strategic minerals in order to support the rising living standards of its immense population.
…So can the United States work to preserve stability in Asia, protect its allies there, and limit the emergence of a Greater China while avoiding a conflict with Beijing?
Strengthening the U.S. air and sea presence in Oceania would be a compromise approach between resisting a Greater China at all cost and assenting to a future in which the Chinese Navy policed the first island chain. This approach would ensure that China paid a steep price for any military aggression against Taiwan.
Still, the very fact of China’s rising economic and military power will exacerbate U.S.-Chinese tensions in the years ahead.