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User Name: abdulruff
Full Name: Dr.Abdul Ruff Colachal
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Obama’s Asian diplomacy and Chinese game plan -DR. ABDUL RUFF





Diplomacy has been a vital ingredience of international politics and a highly resourceful USA has successfully undertaken shuttle diplomatic exercises worldwide to advance its so-called national interest.


Today, Washington, fearing a future direct confrontation, is seen making strenuous efforts to contain an economically resurgent China.


Ever since he entered the White House as its Democratic custodian President Obama has paid concentrated attention to Asia.  Obama made his first ever foreign tour in Indonesia where he claims to have spent his young days.


On Mideast, Obama has squandered all hopes by visiting Israel after a long delay and now allowing Israeli regime to scuttle the peace talks with Palestinians which he mediated.

Obama’s pivotal strategic initiative in Asia is still alive despite the inevitable pull of events in the Middle East and Europe, may not have made any headway in the multilateral connect objective Washington seeks to weaken China in Asia and beyond but has opened the door for a stronger US military presence in Asia.


Washington could take credit for the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that excluded China but that is not everything that Obama’s Asia Pivot would want.  There is a sharp separation between the USA and the other TPP participants on many of the major issues like intellectual property rights, investment guidelines, environment and rules of origin.



 Under U.S. leadership the TPP is pushing for the highest standards, with substantial attention being paid to issues that are often not seen as directly trade related, such as intellectual property rights and the rules governing state enterprises. Many TPP participants are drawn to the potential for spurring structural reforms in being associated with such a group, but some are also motivated by the TPP as a counter weight to China’s economic rise.


By escalating the war on Islam, launched by republican hawks led by Bush Jr, Obama has already helped the Pentagon to gear up the militarism objective of US militarism strategists, although the project cut resources from social agenda of Americans supported by the genuine politicians.

Of course, capitalism and militarism have no space for social benefits or common people’s welfare measures. The US congress, now dominated by war lords from Republican Party, would not allow any concessions to the poor or less privileged.  .


However, that could not weaken China in any manner.  But USA exploits the situation that China cannot win the battle for regional sentiment so long as the debate is about security and sovereignty, on which Beijing’s hard position leaves little room for compromise.. Beijing is pushing the regional agenda of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with the ASEAN towards more mutually beneficial concerns, though.  China wants to be seen as an opportunity for western nations, rather than a threat.


The 15th century legendary explorer Zheng had led an armada of more than 300 ships and 27,000 sailors in voyages from China through Southeast and South Asia to the Persian Gulf. Today these same corridors play a vital role in supporting East Asia’s unique production sharing network which brings components produced throughout the region to China for assembly and then onwards to final destinations in USA and Europe. Building on these links could help build more harmonious interactions throughout the region.


A sharp decline in transport costs along the contemporary maritime silk route allowed all countries in the region, regardless of their size and technological sophistication, to benefit from specialization and economies of scale by producing components rather than complete products. This is the major reason why East Asia has performed so well relative to the rest of the world. With rising labor costs in China, many ASEAN economies now stand to gain from future outsourcing of production.

With a view to countering  the Obama’s Asia pivot, Chinese President Xi Jinping during his October visit to Malaysia and Indonesia put forward the  idea of reviving the historic “maritime silk route”

having a  history of over two thousand years,. This notion builds on the East Asia region’s proven strengths in sharing production and deepening financial links while seeking to make greater use of the overseas Chinese communities in forging relationships to reduce tensions.


New pattern of China-Asia capital flows would affect economic relationships as China moves from being largely an absorber of funds to also a major provider.  Experts  predict that within a decade as much as a hundred billion dollars will be leaving China annually in the form of direct investment and portfolio flows, with much of it targeted to Asia.


Overseas Chinese account for as much as two thirds of FDI flows into China. About 32 million of the 50 million overseas Chinese reside in Southeast Asia, including PRC nationals who live abroad and ethnic Chinese who have assimilated into their host countries. They account for a preponderance of the wealth in a number of ASEAN countries and play key roles in the regional production sharing network, aspects of which are coordinated out of Hong Kong, Singapore and in electronics, Taiwan, blurring concepts of what constitutes overseas ethnic Chinese communities and their political status. These Chinese continue to exhibit an enduring cultural connection to China despite assimilating and naturalizing to host countries abroad.


Most overseas Chinese do not share a bond with China beyond purely economic interests. Other local populations throughout Southeast Asia remain concerned about how greater engagement with China will benefit them directly and not just the Diaspora. Such feelings are more extreme in countries like Vietnam and the Philippines but with varying gradations also a consideration in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

This Chinese community indirectly determines the regime shift in Malaysia.


History called the Silk Route could be repeating itself as centuries ago Chinese copper coins were used as the medium of exchange throughout the maritime silk route, foreshadowing China’s current ambitions to internationalize its currency. The challenge, however, is reaching out to a broader range of communities and not relying only on the Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia to facilitate China’s outward flow of capital.


The US concept of a revitalized maritime Silk Route may not help promote more positive foreign policy outcomes within Asia so long China is ready with counter schemes and American business lords seek Chinese money, though this might serve the ultimate interests of the USA and Pacific in ensuring safe and open access to the major maritime corridors However, the more USA tries to restrict or contain Beijing, the more China would strengthen its position in Asia. The approach would not reduce  regional tensions.

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