China's muscle-flexing is just one more reason why the United States cannot afford to move ahead with massive military-budget cuts, former U.S. ambassador John Bolton says.
"We need superior Pacific Ocean air and naval power to counter Chinese aggressiveness." he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed
Beijing's Nov. 23 announcement declaring the area over the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea an air-defense identification zone is part of a pattern of obdurate behavior that for too long American policymakers have sought to downplay, Bolton alleges.
Vice President Joe Biden, who is visiting Asia this week, criticized but did not expressly reject the Chinese declaration. The State Department advised American carriers
to comply with China's notification requirements.
This position runs contrary to the policies of Japan and South Korea which instructed their airlines to ignore the Chinese demand.
"At the very best, these are mixed, and therefore dangerous, signals," writes Bolton.
The Obama administration has been "fantasizing" about China's "peaceful rise" as a "responsible stakeholder" on the world stage, Bolton says.
But, he says, China's policies are driven by the People's Liberation Army, the dominant force within the Communist Party — which remains the principal political and significant economic power in the country.
According to Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, all this "explains Beijing's sustained increases in military budgets; its expanding nuclear and ballistic-missile arsenals; its unmatched cyber warfare program; its construction of a blue-water navy; and its anti-satellite, anti-access and area-denial weapons systems. These aren't the marks of a 'peaceful rise,' especially combined with Beijing's aggressive territorial claims."
Bolton urges a "more realistic" American strategy on China, by having a stronger presence in the region, encouraging Japan to increase its defense and putting pressure on Beijing to oppose North Korea and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
He called on Taiwan to publicly state that it does not recognize Beijing's defense-zone declaration and to coordinate its stance with Japan and South Korea.
China's latest gambit may have brought home the inherent threats and dangers of the real world to this administration.
"Joe Biden's Asia trip could tell us if President Obama now gets it," Bolton concludes.
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