As a strategic approach, the U.S. pivot or rebalance to Asia seeks to expand the American political, economic and military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. While this realignment is not only about China, it is also evident that much of the thinking behind it relates to China, and in particular how a more engaged American leadership in Asia could be potentially productive in steering Beijing toward a path that, from the U.S. perspective, would be beneficial for regional and global order.
The strategic shift has led many observers to perceive the rebalance as a means for the U.S. to maintain primacy in Asia at the expense of China. Some interpret it as the latest incarnation of a U.S. containment or hedging policy toward China. Others suggest that a more robust U.S. presence emboldens some Asian countries to take a more assertive stance in their territorial disputes with Beijing. In short, a common perception is that the U.S. pivot is inimical to Chinese interests and ambition in the region.
This view is only partially correct. The problem is that it relies on a parochial, zero-sum view of U.S.-China relations. The rebalance is a strategic challenge to China. But what is less recognized is that not all of its features are detrimental to Chinese interests.