China containment policy

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The China containment policy is a political term referring to a claimed goal of U.S. foreign policy to diminish the economic and political growth of the People’s Republic of China. The term, coined by political analysts in China,[citation needed] harkens back to the U.S. containment policy against communist countries during the Cold War.

Proponents of this theory claim that the United States needs a weak, divided China to continue its hegemony in Asia. This is accomplished, the theory claims, by the United States establishing military, economic, and diplomatic ties with countries adjacent to China's borders, frustrating China's own attempts at alliance-building and economic partnership. The presence of American military in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan;[1] recently strengthened ties with South Korea[2] and Japan;[3] efforts to improve relations with India[4] and Vietnam;[2] and the Pivot to Asia Strategy for increased American involvement in the Pacific have been pointed to as evidence of a containment policy.

Chinese political commentators often portray this attitude as current U.S. foreign policy in the mainstream Chinese media.[citation needed] The United States has officially claimed they have no China containment policy and that they "want China to succeed and prosper."[5]


Supporters of Chinese containment or increased American involvement in East Asia have cited the United States as a counterbalance to the excesses of Chinese expansion. Countries in territorial disputes with China, such as in the South China Sea and the Senkaku Islands, have complained about harassment in the disputed areas.[6][7][8][9] Some experts have suggested that China may leverage their economic strength in such disputes, one example being the sudden restriction on Chinese imports of Filipino bananas during tensions over the Scarborough Shoal.[10]

The 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy states that China has 'the greatest potential of any nation to militarily compete with the US and field disruptive military technologies that over time offset traditional US advantages.'[11] The document continues by stating that China must be more open in reporting its military expenditures and refrain from "locking up" energy supplies by continuing to obtain energy contracts with disreputable regimes in Africa and Central Asia.[12] The policy assumes that measures should be taken against China to prevent it from seeking hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region and/or worldwide.[13]

Chinese analysts have also suggested that the rapid expansion of China's military, the growing trade deficit with the United States, China's human rights record, and the Taiwan question as other justifications for a China containment policy.[citation needed]

Strategic alliances[edit]

US – India: (See United States-India relations) It is assumed was established or reconfirmed during Bush’s visit to India in March 2006. The media speculated about the US using India to contain China, claims that the Indian officials publicly denied.[14][15]

US – Japan – Australia: (See United States-Japan relations and United States-Australia relations) Labeled by the Asian media[quantify] as a "little NATO against China" or the new "triple alliance", or "the axis of democracy" by the Economist.[16] Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Australia in March 2006 for the "trilateral security forum" with the Japanese foreign minister Taro Aso and his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer.[17][18]

Japan – Australia: (See Japan-Australia relations) On March 15, 2007 both nations signed a strategic military partnership agreement,[19] which analysts[quantify] believe is aimed at alienating China.[20]

US – Japan – Australia - India: In May 2007, the four nations signed a strategic military partnership agreement - the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

US – Japan – India: The three nations held their first trilateral meeting in Dec 2011.[21]


Australia: Australia has a growing dependency on China’s market. Its mining industry is booming owing to Chinese demand.[22] During the second Bush Administration, ahead of the visit by Condoleezza Rice and her warning about China becoming a "negative force"[23] the then Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, warned that Australia does not agree with a policy of containment of China.[24] Rice clarified that the U.S. is not advocating a containment policy.

India: China is India's largest trading partner.[25] George W. Bush’s visit to India was seen in part as an attempt to boost bilateral trade and to expand US influence, by offering India high nuclear technology. China is the United States' fifth-largest trading partner in terms of exports, while India ranks only twenty-fourth.[26]

Japan: Although the economy of the United States is 45% larger than China’s, China has already overtaken the US as Japan’s largest trading partner.[27] China gives imports from Japan preference and priority over the US[citation needed] which has been an important factor in the recovery of Japan's decade long stagnant economy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lam, Willy (22 April 2002). "China opposes U.S. presence in Central Asia". China Daily (CNN). Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Carpenter, Ted (30 November 2011). "Washington’s Clumsy China Containment Policy". The National Interest. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Jinan, Wu (25 January 2013). "Containment of China Is Abe’s Top Target". China-United States Exchange Foundation. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "Will India join strategic containment of China?". People's Daily. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Daozu, Bao (11 November 2010). "US denies China 'containment'". China Daily. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Blumenthal, Daniel (15 April 2011). "Riding a tiger: China's resurging foreign policy aggression". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "Japan protest over China ship's radar action". BBC News. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "China and Vietnam in row over detention of fishermen". BBC News. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Page, Jeremy (3 December 2012). "Vietnam Accuses Chinese Ships". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Higgins, Andrew (10 June 2012). "In Philippines, banana growers feel effect of South China Sea dispute". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Hawkins, William R (June 2, 2007). The dangers in talking to China. Asia Times Online.
  12. ^ Bush, George (March 2006). The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. The White House.
  13. ^ Feng, Huiyun (2007). Chinese strategic culture and foreign policy decision-making: Confucianism, leadership and war. Routledge. p.81. ISBN 978-0-415-41815-7.
  14. ^ Nuclear deal no threat to China, Pak: Narayanan. March 2006. Online News.
  15. ^ Gilani, Iftikhar (March 18, 2006). "US-India N-deal should not threaten Pakistan, China". Daily Times.
  16. ^ Australia and Japan cosy up. The Economist. March 16, 2007.
  17. ^ Jain, Purnendra (March 18, 2006). "A 'little NATO' against China". Asia Times Online.
  18. ^ Weisman, Steven (March 17, 2006). "Rice and Australian Counterpart Differ About China". The New York Times.
  19. ^ Graeme Dobell (March 18, 2007). Japan, Australia declare strategic partnership. ABC News Online Australia.
  20. ^ Walters, Patrick; Callick, Rowan (March 16, 2007). India's inclusion in security pact risks alienating China. The Australian.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Sackur, Stephen (12 April 2011). "Australia leases out mineral-rich land as China's hunger for resources grows". The Guardian (London). 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ India - CIA - The World Factbook.
  26. ^ Thakurta, Paranjoy Guha (March 15, 2006). "China could overtake US's India trade". Asia Times Online.
  27. ^ Japan - CIA - The World Factbook.

External links[edit]