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"China's Quest for Asia"

10:59 AM, Dec 13, 2005 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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Heritage Foundation scholars John J. Tkacik Jr. and Dana Dillon make their case in the latest issue of Policy Review.

What Beijing Wants

In early 2000, Condoleezza Rice wrote, "China resents the role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific Region. This means that China is not a ‘status quo' power but one that would like to alter Asia's balance of power in its own favor. That alone makes it a strategic competitor, not the ‘strategic partner' the Clinton administration once called it."

While Dr. Rice has become a bit less direct in her locution during her tenure as secretary of state, her observation remains valid. Johns Hopkins professor Francis Fukuyama, writing in the Wall Street Journal (March 1, 2005), sees a similar trend in China's ambitions: "The Chinese know what they are doing: Over the long run, they want to organize East Asia in a way that puts them in the center of regional politics. They can succeed where [then-Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammed] Mahathir failed because they are an economic powerhouse capable of doling out favors." Of course, they can also mete out sanctions.

In the view of numerous analysts, a desire to demonstrate to Asia that China, not Japan, is the dominant regional power was the animating force behind the government-organized anti-Japanese riots and boycotts of Japanese goods in the spring of 2005. It is clear that Beijing intends to become the predominant force in Southeast Asia by constructing a framework of relationships that place Beijing in positions of leadership and influence while isolating the United States from its traditional role and its allies in the region.