Under the Influence: Challenging China with Cooperation

Under the Influence: Challenging China with Cooperation

The U.S.-China naval confrontation in the South China Sea two weeks ago was only the latest in a series of military showdowns between the two countries in the past decade. And like the others before it, the skirmish -- which according to initial reports had Chinese sailors stripping down to their skivvies before U.S. seamen -- seemed harmless enough.

But the quarrel came, if you will, amid tumultuous seas. Not long afterwards, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, troubled perhaps by Washington's response to the financial crisis and its consequences on the broader U.S. economy, voiced concern about China's massive economic investments in the United States. While the United States struggled to assemble a domestic stimulus package last month, China launched several domestic infrastructure projects. It has since been extending its reach around the world, going on a spending spree with its thick-lined coffers.

Well-tuned to the magnitude of China's importance, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chose Asia for her first trip abroad, including a visit to Beijing. But it is disconcerting to note, as Newsweek put it, that while she made no mistakes, "There's no evidence of serious strategic thinking either."

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