China vs the US in East Asia


Mark MacKinnon, writing from Beijing, with an insightful piece:

“Beijing is going to make itself as useful as possible [to new North Korea leader Kim Jong-un],” said Stephanie Kleine Ahlbrandt, a Beijing-based analyst for the International Crisis Group who specializes in China’s relationships with its neighbours. “The Chinese don’t want to see this uncertainty leading to North Korea and the West becoming closer, for South Korea and the U.S. to use the opportunity to reunify the peninsula.”

MacKinnon’s broader point is that China this week was “clingy” and over-reacted to the death of Kim Jong-Il because North Korea is about all that China has in the region. And with renewed U.S. interest in being influential in Asia, China knows it must do more to be friendly with its neighbours. As if on cue, here’s Xinhua News Agency, a news agency widely seen in the West as the mouthpiece of the Chinese government, reporting today on the recent activities of China’s second most powerful politician:

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s just-concluded official visits to Vietnam and Thailand proved to be a major diplomatic move meant to strengthen China’s relations with countries in the neighboring region, a senior Chinese diplomat said Saturday.

The visits were of great significance to promoting and making closer China’s relations of strategic partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and consolidating and developing China’s good-neighborly foreign relations with the neighboring region, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said. [Read the rest]

Photo information: China’s Vice President Xi Jinping  walks past Vietnamese soldiers while leaving the Presidential Palace in Hanoi December 21, 2011. Xi was in Hanoi for a three-day visit from December 20 to 22. REUTERS.

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