Hi quest ,  welcome  |  

对冲防范(Hedging): Is Obama's 'Pivot to Asia' Really a Hedge Against China?

08/06/2012|AMES KITFIELD|The Atlantic Monthly

On his recent swing through Asia, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey heard two questions at nearly every stop: Did America's recently announced strategic pivot to the region mean reestablishing the kind of massive permanent military bases that characterized its Cold War presence? And was it aimed at containing China?

"First, I didn't carry around a backpack with American flags in it and go around planting them," said Dempsey, giving his first solo press briefing at the Pentagon on Thursday shortly after his return from Asia. The Pentagon's strategy instead envisions access agreements to more national ports and bases in the region, the general said, as well as an increased presence through joint military exercises, frequent training rotations, and multilateral operations. "Our new strategy and rebalancing in Asia is also not about containing China."

Rather, Dempsey argued that the strategic balance of power, whether economic, demographic, or military, is shifting inexorably toward the Asia-Pacific region. Given that reality, an increased U.S. military presence is seen as a stabilizing force --  an argument widely accepted by smaller nations in the region such as Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, each of which he visited. "And I received nothing but positive feedback from leaders in the region who welcome our rebalancing," he said.

All of which is to say that the United States is reenergizing a classic hedging strategy, simultaneously engaging China while creating a network of bilateral military partnerships and alliances on its periphery as a potential counterweight and hedge against the rise of a belligerent China. That strategy has been greatly advanced by Beijing's bullying behavior in recent years during a series of maritime standoffs over disputed islands in the South China Sea, nearly all of which China claims as its own. The U.S. position is not to become directly involved in such territorial disputes, but to insist that they are settled peacefully and that "freedom of navigation" is maintained, a direct swipe at China's claim.

Certainly it has not been lost on Beijing that the United States is solidifying military ties with many of its neighbors, including with countries engaged in tense territorial disputes with China such as the Philippines and Vietnam.

"As our military forces become more available in the region and more engaged, we think that will build trust and avoid the misconceptions that can lead to conflict," said Dempsey. "We think that is stabilizing rather than destabilizing."

Hedging: The Real U.S. Policy Towards China?
16/05/2013|John Hemmings|The Diplomat
Over the past several years, it has been common practice for Chinese academics and pundits to describe the U.S. "pivot" or "rebalancing" to Asia as part of a greater strategy of containment. Popular Chinese news media like Xinhua, the People’s Daily and the Global Times regularly run articles assuming that the U.S. is enacting a containment strategy as it once did against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In the contemporary debate among various Chinese scholars and in the media, the pivot is seen as  a strategy based on American financial monopoly, or at least one based on the military industrial complex’s need for an opponent. Occasionally some in the U.S. like Bonnie Glaser and Joseph Nye warn the U.S. against a policy of containment, apparently giving credibility to such charges.

On the other hand, U.S. policymakers reject the notion of containment. There simply has not been the type of policy realization as famously took place when George Kennan sent his ‘Long Telegram’ to Washington in 1946. Indeed, many in Washington insist that the relationship with China is one of engagement and is highly successful in a number of spheres, including trade, counter-proliferation, and global governance. Voting patterns in fora like the UN Security Council show closer U.S.-Chinese positioning than would be expected.  
So the question remains concerning how to understand the disconnect between the two perspectives. Such opposing viewpoints can be explained if one assumes that the U.S. has been enacting a much more nuanced policy than simple containment. Rather, the U.S. is enacting a policy of hedging towards China. In fact, many states in the region (such as Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines) have policies towards China that could be characterized as hedging.
Appropriated from the financial world, the basic assumption is that hedging means a state spreads its risk by pursuing two opposite policies towards another state. In international relations, states carry out two contradictory policy directions simultaneously: balancing and engagement. A state prepares for the worst by balancing – maintaining a strong military, building and strengthening alliances – while also preparing for the best and engaging – building trade networks, increasing diplomatic links, and creating binding multilateral frameworks. U.S. behavior towards China easily fits into both of these extremes.指一个国家对另一个国家采取截然相反的政策以分散风险。在国际关系上,表现为同时奉行彼此矛盾的两种政策,即制衡和接触。通过制衡,做最坏的打算--维持强大军力、构筑并加强联盟;同时,通过接触,做最好的打算--构建贸易网络、增加外交联系并创造有约束力的多边框架。美国对中国的所作所为无疑符合这两个极端。
Why have U.S. policymakers and a number of their Asian peers decided to pursue such a policy towards Beijing? In essence, it comes from uncertainty. It is difficult to develop policy without strong knowledge of what the other state intends. While this uncertainty exists at some level between all states, diplomatic custom, international government organizations, and multilateral rule systems (like the WTO) minimize this uncertainty by imparting predictability to state-to-state relations. This predictability is enhanced by diplomacy, transparency, and on occasion, espionage. So what is different concerning China that provokes the urge to hedge?
First, China is clearly a rising power. Beijing's unfinished rise means that no one yet knows – including China itself – its true potential and ability to project power. This uncertainty could be described as structural: it has to do with power and the perception of how much power and influence Beijing will eventually have. Second, no one knows how China will use its growing clout. Indeed, over the duration of the South and East China Sea crises, regional players have been trying to gauge Chinese willingness to use force to pursue its claims. No one knows how far Beijing is willing to go. Thirdly, China’s regime type makes it a particularly difficult state to read; its foreign policy-making system is comparatively opaque. Contrast this with the United States, where foreign diplomats can access U.S. policy intentions by spending time in Congress, visiting think tanks,  reading  free media, and so on.
Clearly the utilization of a hedging strategy demonstrates that U.S. policymakers are undecided on whether China constitutes a threat. Hedging is not simply defined by a state’s actions, but by its intentions. In May 1941, although Germany’s relationship with the USSR looked like hedging, it was not. While Germany was enacting two opposing policies of balancing and engagement with the Soviet Union, it had in fact already decided on war in November 1940. This illustrates a crucial difference between U.S.-China relations and German-Soviet relations: U.S. policymakers are genuinely uncertain which line to pursue.
In a situation when a state is hedging against another state, what is the optimum policy reaction for the latter? One advantage of the hedging discourse over a containment discourse is that Chinese leaders need not take the defensive. They can attempt to persuade the U.S. and regional powers of China’s benign intentions through a re-engagement of China’s 1990s soft diplomacy. Beijing could begin by shelving or de-prioritizing a number of territorial issues. The Chinese leadership might opt for trust-building through new institutions and customs while resurrecting neglected ones, such as the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement. If Chinese leaders were to accede to a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, or utilize conflict resolution mechanisms such as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), it might go a long way to dampen the hedging policies of regional states. If the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were to continue its tradition of issuing White Papers with ever-increasing transparency, it would also go a long way to calming regional fears. In order to mitigate a hedging strategy, one must only address the causes of uncertainty in the relationship. Some of those are structural and difficult to address, but others are well within the reach of policymakers in Beijing.
John Hemmings is a non-resident SPF Fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS and a doctoral candidate at the London School of Economics.

11/01/2011|Richard Weitz|The Diplomat
Last year saw an unusually tense period in US-China relations.
First there was the large US arms sale to Taiwan in January. Then came US President Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in February. Meanwhile, there were ongoing differences over alleged currency manipulation, protectionist trade practices, the two countries’ divergent climate change approaches, China’s Internet censorship and cyber espionage activities and mutual concerns about each other’s Korean policies (the United States has been frustrated by China’s refusal to condemn North Korean behavior, while Chinese policymakers worry the US might provoke Pyongyang with its military drills in the region).
All this has meant that China has so far failed to become the regional and global partner the Obama administration was hoping for, while Chinese policymakers for their part have expressed confusion over why the administration would confront Beijing on so many issues in 2010 after being so accommodating just a year earlier.
It’s true of course that the tone of Sino-US ties has improved in recent weeks. But the fact is that this is probably more about the Chinese wanting President Hu Jintao to have a good legacy trip in Washington on what will likely be his last state visit to the United States. Indeed, the decision to finally invite US Defence Robert Gates to China this past weekend can be interpreted as less connected to ending the freeze Beijing imposed on high-level military contacts following the Taiwan arms sale, and more as an attempt by China to ease tensions over bilateral military relations ahead of Hu’s arrival.
So how does China really view its ties with the US? Late last year, the official Xinhua News Agency ran several commentaries assessing the bilateral relationship that likely reflect the views of many Chinese leaders. One that ran at the end of December complained that the ‘return’ of the United States to the Asia-Pacific region had complicated regional relations, especially with Washington’s ‘new-found’ penchant for intervening in bilateral disputes between Asian countries.  The writer(s) presumably had in mind Washington’s diplomatic and military support for South Korea, Vietnam, Japan and other countries, many of which have territorial or other conflicts with Beijing.
Another commentary, published in the People’s Daily in November under the name of Li Hongmei, was even more explicit about Chinese grievances. It expressed, for example, irritation at US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for having ‘waded into the China-Japan dispute over (the) Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea by calling for trilateral talks’ that would include the United States as well as China and Japan. Li also denounced ‘the irresponsible remarks made by some American high-profile officials over the South China Sea issue’ in addition to their support for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, US arms sales to Taiwan and Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama. 
Xinhua was right to note a more visible US presence in the region. US support for some of China’s neighbours was evident not only in Obama’s trip in the autumn to some of Asia’s largest democracies—India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan—but through regular, ties-bolstering trips to the region by Clinton. In October, she indicated that, notwithstanding Chinese complaints, most regional governments are happy to see the United States once more assume a high profile in the region, claiming that, ‘The most common thing that Asian leaders have said to me in my travels over this last 20 months is, “Thank you, we’re so glad that you’re playing an active role in Asia again”.’
This past year has certainly seen a marked shift from the United States’ focus in recent years on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These conflicts had meant that American diplomats would regularly skip important East Asian meetings, and at least in the eyes of some anxious regional leaders led to the perception that there had been an outsourcing of North Korea policy to Beijing. Under the influence of Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and others, the Obama administration has since strived to assume a more prominent position in the Asia-Pacific region, restoring good relations with Japan, initiating defence talks with Vietnam and seeking to impart new momentum to US ties with India.
Yet these policies should be seen less as an effort to contain China and more as a return to the kind of shaping and hedging policies that the Bill Clinton administration pursued on many security issues, especially relations with Russia. The principle behind this approach is that it will help shape the targeted actor’s choices so that it will pursue policies helpful to the United States and its allies. In the case of China, these policies would include not threatening to use force against other countries, moderating its trade and climate polices and generally embracing and supporting the existing international institutions and the global status quo. On the flip side, if these shaping policies fail, then the United States aims to be in a good position, thanks to its strategic hedging, to resist disruptive Chinese policies until China abandons them.
In many cases, Washington is fortunate that policies such as strengthening security ties with Japan or India contribute to both shaping and hedging. For example, conducting joint military exercises with South Korea can both encourage Chinese leaders uncomfortable seeing US aircraft carriers sailing in the Yellow Sea to apply more pressure on North Korea to rein in its threatening behavior, while also hedging against the eventuality that Chinese pressure might fail.
From Washington’s perspective, hedging against China makes perfect sense. After all, US security objectives in East Asia include ensuring freedom of navigation, averting destabilizing regional arms races and disputes, and above all preserving stability by preventing the use of force to alter the status quo. China, meanwhile, is the most prominent Asian military power with the potential to threaten these goals.
Even if ultimately unsuccessful, a Chinese attack against Taiwan or use of force in the South China Sea would disrupt East Asian commerce, heighten regional tensions and encourage arms races. In addition, aggression in the Pacific could also compromise US alliances if Washington's failure to react led East Asian countries to fear either abandonment or entrapment in a conflict with China.
But a more visible US presence in the region doesn’t mean Chinese leaders don’t have their own reasons why they might be inclined to challenge the status quo—balance-of-power considerations, economic resource needs, domestic political considerations, or perceived infringements on China's sovereignty or status could all put pressure on them to act. And, while China’s sudden adoption of more aggressive policies last year surprised many observers, we shouldn’t forget that during the last century, China rapidly and radically altered its policies towards several important foreign policy issues. Most spectacularly, Beijing shifted from allying with the USSR against the United States in the 1950s, to hostile neutrality toward both superpowers in the 1960s, to a defence alignment with Washington against Moscow in the 1970s and 1980s, to a policy of wary cooperation with Russia and restrained antagonism toward the United States in the 1990s.
In some respects, China presents to Asia the same kind of challenge that Germany represented to Europe from 1870 to 1945. China’s huge population and dynamic economy provide it with immense military potential, making it a natural aspirant for regional hegemony and forcing many of its weaker neighbours to seek the help of an external balancer. And China also shares elements of the second dimension of the former ‘German problem’: its authoritarian political leaders seem dissatisfied with their country's place in the existing Western-dominated Asia-Pacific international system.
These two factors—China's potential military dominance and its possible revisionist foreign policy—mean that other Asian countries and Washington have no choice but to consider how to avert a potential Chinese drive for regional hegemony.
Even a failed Chinese grasp for Asian primacy would risk triggering a military confrontation with the United States and other countries—as well as severely damaging the Pacific economy. Yet if Washington were to stand aside, it would undermine its credibility as a guarantor of East Asian stability. Against this backdrop, other countries—notably Japan and South Korea—might respond by seeking to bolster their security by acquiring nuclear weapons, which would further undermine regional stability.
All this means that more than any other plausible arrangement, the status quo in East Asia best satisfies not just the security interests of the United States, but also its allies. And it’s a reality that means US policymakers naturally feel compelled to try to prevent China from even attempting to turn to force to resolve the region’s numerous territorial disputes.

Richard Weitz writes a weekly column on Asia-Pacific strategic and security issues. He is director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis and a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute.

04/06/2012|Harry kazianis|The Diplomat
The commencement at any university or college is usually filled with special events, ceremonies, and proud traditions. Speakers at such affairs often look to recent events and note the world around us as a source of inspiration in their remarks.
But the recent commencement ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy also offered perhaps as good an example of the sign of the times as anything else: U.S. Secretary Defense Leon Panetta  presented a diploma to the first foreign student to achieve top graduate honors,  young midshipman Sam Tan Wei Chen. His nation of origin: Singapore.
In recent months, the United States has laid out a carefully scripted strategy of “pivoting” or what has beenrecently re-termed as “rebalancing” to the Asia-Pacific region. Through carefully worded op-eds, speeches, and military maneuvers, U.S. diplomats have laid the foundations for a new strategic focus after a decade of war.  Yet, America’s new strategy seems more of a hedge to the broader Indo-Pacific than a simple rebalance to the Pacific.
In an especially timely speech delivered in Singapore on Saturday to the 11th IISS Asia Security Summit, Panetta detailed America’s vision for the Asia-Pacific/Indo-Pacific region. And make no mistake, the U.S. intends to hedges its bets with only one target in mind: The People’s Republic of China.
While cooperation will be encouraged, America plans to have the forces and military power in the region in case regional tensions erupt into armed conflict. Alliances and partnerships in the region will be strengthened as a backstop against any eventualities.
Hedging its bets in the Indo-Pacific makes sense for the United States, and by default its allies in the region for a number of reasons.
First and most importantly, the U.S. doesn’t have the simple option of trying to contain China. Many scholars have correctly observed China is a major part of a globalized economic order and the world's second largest economy. While containment may have worked against the Soviet Union, no similar wall can be constructed around a nation that has deep links to the rest of the world through the internet, social media, and global commerce.  Cold War strategies simply won't apply.
It should also be noted that China is a nation whose true strategic intentions are somewhat vague. For all its bluster in the recent Scarborough Shoal affair, China didn’t send out the PLA Navy (PLAN) to try to settle the matter. China does,however,claim the shoal,which sits 220 kilometers away fromthe Philippines’ Luzon Island – aconsiderable distance from the Chinese coast.
China is also facing a period of transition. Its economy seems to be slowing and faces pressures to adapt from being an export-led model of economic growth to a more domestic, consumer driven concept.  China’s party leadership will also be transitioning to a new generation of leaders who could conceivably have their own ideas about relations with the region and the United States. 
Before the U.S. can begin hedging on the future, past commitments that complicate such a strategy –namely significant American ground forces in Afghanistan and a global war on terrorism – need to be brought to a close, or at least deemphasized.
America’s true pivot seemed well underway judging by Panetta’s remarksashe noted “The United States is at a strategic turning point after a decade of war.” While not declaring victory, Panetta clearly signaled the U.S. intention to move on, saying: “We have significantly weakened al-Qaeda’s leadership and ability to attack other nations. We have sent a very clear message that nobody attacks the United States and gets away with it. Our military mission in Iraq has ended and established – established an Iraq that can secure and govern itself.”
In the case of Afghanistan, Panetta suggested that “we have begun our transition to the Afghan security lead and to an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself.”
The true meat of the speech,though, came as Panetta laid outthe strategy for the future.Panettarepeated many long stated U.S. priorities in the region, including a strong commitment to “international rules and order.”  Time honored alliances (Japan, South Korea) and new partnerships (India, Singapore) would be strengthened, he said. There was also a pledge to reassure U.S.allies that it will remain committed in the region over the long haul,despite budget cuts. This was reinforced by a pledge to utilizethe United States’state of the art armed forces.
On China itself, the secretary made it very clear the U.S. seeks a workmanlike relationship and cooperation overshared interests:
“China is a key to being able to develop a peaceful, prosperous, and secure Asia-Pacific in the 21st century. And I am looking forward to traveling there soon at the invitation of the Chinese government. Both of our nations recognize that the relationship – this relationship between the United States and China is one of the most important in the world. We in the United States are clear-eyed about the challenges, make no mistake about it, but we also seek to grasp the opportunities that can come from closer cooperation and a closer relationship.”
Panetta also paid special attention to military-to-military contacts, something also reinforced in the Pentagon's recent report on China, noting a goal
“to deepen our partnership in humanitarian assistance, counter-drug, and counter-proliferation efforts. We have also agreed on the need to address responsible behavior in cyberspace and in outer space. We must establish and reinforce agreed principles of responsible behavior in these key domains.”
Despites all the talk of cooperation, though, the most interesting section of Panetta’s speech noted the military component of the U.S. strategy, what he called “force projection”. He encouraged U.S. allies to look at not only the numbers of American forces in the regions, but to their advanced capabilities. He noted the United States would deploy 60 percent of its naval power to the Pacific, a strategy that began under the previous administration. Port visits will be increased and become more widely distributed, including in the Indian Ocean. Six carriers will be deployed in the region with “a majority of our cruisers, destroyers, Littoral Combat Ships, and submarines.” Special note was made of the technological prowess of American combat power that will be dedicated to the region. Fifth generation fighters, new “enhanced” Virginia class nuclear submarines, and improved precision weapons will all “provide our forces with freedom of maneuver in areas in which our access and freedom of action may be threatened.”
Panetta was also sure to mention the much-discussed Joint Operational Access Concept and related Air-Sea Battle concept. Such ideas would help “meet the challenges of new and disruptive technologies and weapons that could deny our forces access to key sea routes and key lines of communication.”
Access, specifically anti-access, seems to be the key military threat U.S. planners seem to wish to hedge against.  While not singled out specifically in the secretary’s speech, there’s no other nation in the Pacific that sports advanced anti-access capabilities more than China. More broadly known as Anti-access/Area-denial (A2/AD), such a strategy would be deployed through synergizing the combined military capabilities of ultra-quiet diesel and nuclear submarines, mines, cyber attacks, anti-satellite weapons and swarm attacks by ballistic and cruise missiles.  Slowing, limiting or denying a superior U.S. force from aiding a potential rival in combat  in areas like the South China Sea, Taiwan or elsewhere seems to be the goal.
Some consider the centerpiece of such a strategy an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), the DF-21D. The missile, fired from a mobile truck-mounted launcher into the atmosphere, with assistance from over-the-horizon radar, satellite tracking and possibly unmanned aerial vehicles, could strike a ship on the open ocean. There is considerable debate over whether current U.S. missile defenses could counter such a missile. 
In the end, any strategy is only as good as the resources that are devoted to it. With what many are calling “taxmageddon” approaching, funding for a U.S. hedging strategy in the Pacific is unclear at best. With a possible $500 billion in additional defense cuts looming if no compromise is reached, the U.S. force posture in the Indo-Pacific, in the short-term at least, is uncertain. Yet devoting a larger percentage of its military power and resources to its goal to protect its vital interests is a natural component to any U.S. hedging strategy. Failure to do so only invites failure.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...