“The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action,” writes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine. In the article, “America’s Pacific Century,” she announces a major change in U.S. foreign policy, a “pivot to new global realities,” that sets its sights among the three giants of the Asia-Pacific: China, India and the U.S.
Crucial in this strategic turn to maintain U.S hegemony is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a vast trade network spread across the Asia-Pacific rim promoted by Obama at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) forum in November. Currently being negotiated by nine countries, the TPP is essentially a U.S. thrust to exploit the markets, cheap labor and raw materials of the world’s fastest growing region and is also a move to contain China, the main threat to U.S imperialist aims.
In 1997, then Chinese Premier Jiang Zemin likened a similar strategy to having China “play Gulliver to Southeast Asia’s Lilliputians, with the United States supplying the rope and string.” But China is no sleeping giant. The Chinese Global Times warned that, “any country which chooses to be a pawn in the U.S. chess game will lose the opportunity to benefit from China’s economy.”
Obama urged the nine Beijing neighbors to join this “landmark 21st-century trade deal,” noting China’s trade barriers, high tariffs and taxes on foreign investors. Chinese Premier Wen countered that the region’s countries share interests as developing nations with dynamic economies, unlike the West which, “lacks momentum,” and is “plagued by serious financial and debt crises.”
But these threats and promises of economic gains and losses veil serious intentions to control the region’s economy, militarily if necessary.
In November China hosted a meeting of its regional security/economic bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) whose members, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, frequently hold joint military exercises.
At the meeting Wen called for developing multilateral trade and economic ties between its members and recommended Iran, (currently U.S. enemy #1), and Pakistan for membership. India and Turkey have observer status.
Obama makes no bones about U.S. intentions to back up its capitalist interests with military force. On his recent visit to Australia he announced the deployment of 2,500 Marines to Darwin, (the Australian port closest to China) and stated that the U.S. was “here to stay” as a Pacific power.
Hammering the point home, Clinton symbolically chose to speak from the deck of the guided missile cruiser U.S.S. Fitzgerald in Manila Bay, Philippines: “We are making sure that our collective defense capabilities and communications infrastructure are operationally and materially capable of deterring provocations from the full spectrum of state and non-state actors.”
Central to keeping China at bay in the Asia-Pacific is the U.S. backing of puppet regimes in Thailand and Malaysia, strengthening alliances with the Philippines, Japan, South Korea and Australia and pursuing “broader, deeper, and more purposeful relationships” with India and Indonesia.
These events come at a time of heightening tensions in the South China Sea over the oil-rich Spratly Islands, whose energy reserves may rival those of Kuwait, and which are claimed by China, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations. At a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders, (ASEAN) in Indonesia, the U.S. and China disagreed about how to handle the claims, with Wen issuing a warning to the U.S., saying “outside forces” had no excuse to get involved in the complex maritime dispute.
The stakes are high. Half the world’s tonnage passes through the South China Sea. Control of its sea lanes is a necessity for U.S capitalists eager to invest for super-profits and for China, whose economy relies heavily on sea transportation for its import and export trade, including Middle East oil, vital for its industry.
The U.S. is aggressively attempting to weaken China’s growing economic relationships, such as between China and Pakistan which are involved in the development of a deep-sea port, heavily financed by China, at Qwadar on the Arabian Sea in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. The project came under heavy attack by Baluchi separatists, secretly funded by the CIA and Britain, slowing down completion of the port and forcing the Chinese to work under the protection of the Pakistani Army.
Pakistan is facing increased attacks from U.S. intelligence and military forces in what many see as an attempt to destabilize and break up the nation (composed of four main provinces). An independent Baluchistan (and possibly Khyber Pakhtunkwha) would cut off China’s Gwadar port, leaving the sea lanes under U.S control and give the U.S. access through Northern Pakistan to Afghanistan and the oil and gas fields of the Caspian Basin.
New U.S. relations with India, which Obama calls “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century, rooted in common values and interests,” is further straining the Pakistani-U.S. strategic partnership and sharpening tensions between China and India. The U.S. is helping India become a leading military power, selling it uranium and providing nuclear know–how. India, world’s largest weapons importer, accounts for 9% of the world’s arms transactions. They buy warships, destroyers and nuclear submarines to build a navy rivaling China’s.
Finally Russia, another player in the area, threatened to retaliate militarily if Washington goes ahead with a planned missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. America’s Pacific Century is quickly shaping up into a battleground between superpowers and would-be superpowers. But class struggle is also heating up. Globally the working class is taking to the streets in increasing numbers, in Russia, China, the Arab countries, Asia, Europe and the U.S. It’s time for the world’s workers to unite in a communist revolution, led by the ideas of PLP, to overthrow these bloodthirsty imperialists and wipe out the hell of capitalism with a society run by and for the international working class.