China containment policy

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The First and Second island chains in America's Island Chain Strategy, studied by Chinese military strategists to avoid encirclement

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 harkens back to the U.S. containment policy against communist countries during the Cold War. Whilst rejected by experts within China, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and experts at Peking University[1] the theory is popular with Chinese netizens.

The theory asserts that the United States needs a weak, divided China to continue its hegemony in Asia. This is accomplished 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;[2] recently strengthened ties with South Korea[3] and Japan;[4] efforts to improve relations with India[5] and Vietnam;[3] and the Obama administration's 2012 Pivot to Asia Strategy for increased American involvement in the Pacific have been pointed to as evidence of a containment policy. The United States has officially claimed they have no China containment policy and that they "want China to succeed and prosper."[6]


The US 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report 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."[7] 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.[8] The policy assumes that measures should be taken against China to prevent it from seeking hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region and/or worldwide.[9]

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.[10][11][12][13] 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.[14]

Strategic alliances[edit]


It is assumed that it was established or reconfirmed during President George W. Bush’s visit to India in March 2006. The media speculated about India–United States relations having the US India to contain China. Indian officials publicly denied the claims.[15][16]


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Australia in March 2006 for the "trilateral security forum" with the Japanese foreign minister Taro Aso and his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer.[17][18] (See Japan–United States relations and Australia–United States 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.[19]


(See Australia–Japan relations.) On March 15, 2007, both nations signed a strategic military partnership agreement,[20] which analysts[quantify] believe is aimed at alienating China.[21]


In May 2007, the four nations signed a strategic military partnership agreement, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.


The three nations held their first trilateral meeting in Dec 2011.[22]


The three nations held their first trilateral meeting in June 2015.[23]

US– Taiwan[edit]

The recent decade has seen an increasing frequency of US arms sales to Taiwan alongside expanding commercial ties. On December 16, 2015, the Obama administration announced a deal to sell $1.83 billion worth of arms to the Armed Forces of Taiwan, a year and eight months after U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act Affirmation and Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2014 to allow the sale of Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates to Taiwan. The deal would include the sale of two decommissioned U.S. Navy frigates, anti-tank missiles, Assault Amphibious Vehicles, and FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, amid the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. A new $250 million compound for the American Institute in Taiwan was unveiled in June 2018, accompanied by a "low-key" American delegation. The Chinese authorities denounced this action as violation of the "one China" policy statement and demanded the USA stop all relations with Taiwan without intercession of China.


The relationship between the United States and the Philippines has historically been strong and has been described as a Special Relationship. The 1951 mutual-defense treaty was reaffirmed with the November 2011 Manila Declaration.

US–South Korea[edit]

The US continues to host military bases in South Korea.



Australia has a growing dependency on China’s market. Its mining industry is booming owing to Chinese demand.[24] During the second Bush Administration, ahead of the visit by Condoleezza Rice and her warning about China becoming a "negative force"[25] the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, warned that Australia does not agree with a policy of containment of China.[26] Rice clarified that the U.S. is not advocating a containment policy.


China is India's largest trading partner.[27] 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 important nuclear technology. China is the US's fifth-largest trading partner in terms of exports, but India ranks only twenty-fourth.[28]


China has overtaken the U.S. as Japan’s largest trading partner.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bao, Daozu (11 November 2010). "US denies China containment". China Daily. CNN. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  2. ^ Lam, Willy (22 April 2002). "China opposes U.S. presence in Central Asia". China Daily. CNN. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b Carpenter, Ted (30 November 2011). "Washington's Clumsy China Containment Policy". The National Interest. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  4. ^ Jinan, Wu (25 January 2013). "Containment of China Is Abe's Top Target". China-United States Exchange Foundation. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Will India join strategic containment of China?". People's Daily. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  6. ^ Daozu, Bao (11 November 2010). "US denies China 'containment'". China Daily. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  7. ^ Hawkins, William R (June 2, 2007). The dangers in talking to China. Asia Times Online.
  8. ^ Bush, George (March 2006). The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. The White House.
  9. ^ Feng, Huiyun (2007). Chinese strategic culture and foreign policy decision-making: Confucianism, leadership and war. Routledge. p.81. ISBN 978-0-415-41815-7.
  10. ^ Blumenthal, Daniel (15 April 2011). "Riding a tiger: China's resurging foreign policy aggression". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Japan protest over China ship's radar action". BBC News. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  12. ^ "China and Vietnam in row over detention of fishermen". BBC News. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  13. ^ Page, Jeremy (3 December 2012). "Vietnam Accuses Chinese Ships". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  14. ^ Higgins, Andrew (10 June 2012). "In Philippines, banana growers feel effect of South China Sea dispute". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  15. ^ Nuclear deal no threat to China, Pak: Narayanan Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine.. March 2006. Online News.
  16. ^ Gilani, Iftikhar (March 18, 2006). "US-India N-deal should not threaten Pakistan, China". Daily Times.
  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. ^ Australia and Japan cosy up. The Economist. March 16, 2007.
  20. ^ Graeme Dobell (March 18, 2007). Japan, Australia declare strategic partnership. ABC News Online Australia.
  21. ^ Walters, Patrick; Callick, Rowan (March 16, 2007). India's inclusion in security pact risks alienating China. The Australian.
  22. ^ "Inside the first ever U.S.-Japan-India trilateral meeting". Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  23. ^ "The Australia–India–Japan trilateral: converging interests… and converging perceptions? - The Strategist". 17 March 2017. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  24. ^ Sackur, Stephen (12 April 2011). "Australia leases out mineral-rich land as China's hunger for resources grows". The Guardian. London.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Rice: US Has No Policy of Containment Against China -". Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  27. ^ "The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency". Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  28. ^ Thakurta, Paranjoy Guha (March 15, 2006). "China could overtake US's India trade". Asia Times Online.
  29. ^ "The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency". Retrieved 7 July 2018.

External links[edit]