Monday, February 16, 2009

Mrs. Clinton Goes to Asia/National Review 克林顿国务卿亚洲行/评论

Mrs. Clinton Goes to Asia/National Review 克林顿国务卿亚洲行/评论

Mrs. Clinton Goes to Asia

The secretary of state has important business in four different countries.

By Dan Blumenthal (National Review 2/16/2009)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s decision to make Asia the destination of her first official trip sends a positive signal to the region. It indicates the Obama administration’s realization that Asia will become the center of gravity of international politics in the decades ahead. Assuming Asian countries resume their strong economic growth after the current recession, within decades they will account for more of the world’s economy than do Europe and the United States combined. In addition, Asia simmers with political and security competition.

The trip began yesterday, and will include stops in Japan, South Korea, China, and Indonesia. In Tokyo, Clinton will meet a Japanese leadership wary of Chinese military growth — often on display near Japanese shores — and threatened by North Korean nuclear power. The Japanese have less confidence in the American security commitment than they did when six-party denuclearization talks with North Korea began. And North Korea, the very definition of a failed state, has demonstrated its continued relevance by threatening to test a Taepodong long-range ballistic missile during Clinton’s trip.

In South Korea, Clinton will find leaders ready to stand tough against North Korea’s belligerence and demand more reciprocity in denuclearization talks. She will also find that while South Korea enjoys the benefits of trade with China, it is nervous about China’s approach to an increasingly unstable North Korea and long-term designs on the peninsula.

In Beijing, Clinton will encounter a leadership trying to put its best face on a boiling witch’s brew. These leaders are attempting, through a Leninist political system, to govern a population with rising expectations in the face of a serious economic downturn. The Chinese people increasingly protest the corruption and injustice of their government, and the government is responding with increased repression. This is not a formula for political stability.

Clinton’s itinerary includes Indonesia. It is an underappreciated success story — a consolidated Muslim democracy. But with Islamic extremists still a threat, Washington and its allies cannot become complacent about Jakarta’s future. By attending to Indonesia’s political development and security concerns, the U.S. will not only strengthen its relationship with the world’s largest Muslim country, it will solidify its alliance with Australia, Indonesia’s neighbor, with an interest in Indonesian growth and stability.

In fashioning her Asia policy, Secretary Clinton has a chance to make a clean break with her predecessors, who tended to view every Asian challenge in isolation. The United States can begin to view Asia as a whole, with interconnected problems and multilateral solutions.

Clinton can articulate a broad vision for an Asia that is prosperous, peaceful, and free, with a future that does not look like its past — which is characterized by the depredations of imperial powers and the domination of an Asian hegemon. An Asia converging on a common set of liberal, democratic values and institutions is more likely to dissolve historic animosities, settle territorial disputes, and remove barriers to trade.

Autocratic China is the country most likely to stand in the way of this vision. But Asia is not just China. The other countries Clinton will visit are prosperous democracies proud of their political development. Clinton should not shy away from strengthening ties to these democracies. They may want to focus on solving the human-rights crisis in Burma, finding a common vision for the Korean peninisula’s reunification, or establishing a free-trade area of the Pacific that includes Taiwan. It is doubtful that Beijing wants any of these things, but China does not have veto power over the region’s agenda.

To be sure, there is important business to accomplish with the Chinese government — from dealing with the global recession to countering proliferation. But Clinton should not allow Beijing to set the agenda. Nor should Washington continue to make the mistake of thinking that China is the Chinese Communist Party. Numbering over a billion, the Chinese people are not blindly following the dictates of their rulers. Many want their country to make democratic reforms. Should Clinton articulate a regional vision for peace, prosperity, and democracy, she will be speaking not only to Asians already living in democracies, but to the Chinese people as well.

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