China's latest national defense paper, published today, has some fascinating notes on "some country" that has "strengthened its Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanded its military presence in the region, and frequently makes the situation more tense."
While the paper's significance is mostly symbolic (such publishings are rarely read by the country's military higher-ups), most strategists would probably agree that the overall message dances around the United States and the Obama administration's "pivot to Asia." This Asia pivot, or "rebalancing of Asia," was actually established by the Obama administration a couple of years ago but for some reason seems to be all over the media lately--even more than when it was introduced.
Despite the specific label, the pivot does not mean that the administration is turning away from our nation's other pressing engagements in the Middle East. However, the one thing it does indicate is our government's prioritization for future growth and sustainability. As we clean up and extricate ourselves from our volatile ME commitments, the Asia Pacific region's concerns and opportunities are becoming harder to dismiss or contain. While the Asia pivot isn't an exact synonym for the popular "Asian century = 21st century" concept, it is most definitely related.
I recently attended a meeting on Asian security where a US government official stated, "The most pressing issues of our time, such as climate change, will be won or lost in Asia." China is ready to assert more influence in the region--which is understandable because the region is literally its own backyard--while the US aims to at least maintain its historical regional interests while carefully balancing out China's ambitions. It is clear that both the US and China are ready to actively engage in these global concerns--let's hope that both countries' future policies are based on mutual gain and diplomacy instead of hegemonic, zero-sum approaches in the Asia Pacific.