Washington ‘increasingly worried’ about losing dominant position in Asia

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during an arrival ceremony at the White House in Washington September 25, 2015. © Kevin Lamarque
American criticism of China shows how important the Chinese economy is to the US, says Xin Zhang, Research Fellow at East China Normal University. At the same time, the US fears it will lose its leading position in the Asian region, he added.

RT: The US accuses China of cyber-espionage, of stealing blueprints and business plans for Chinese companies to get a head start. Do you think they might agree on boundaries?

Xin Zhang: I’m very positive on this point. We already have some very positive evidence before the summit started because we know that the two parties are already working on a deal that is supposed to prevent cyber-attacks on each other’s vital infrastructure. So, I’m very positive that this might be a landmark deal which will be also probably the most significant achievement of President Xi’s official visit to the US.

READ MORE: Cyber sanctions: US threatens China over hack attacks ahead of Xi Jinping talks with Obama

RT: China’s growing military strength is a great concern to the US. Washington claims that China’s work on man-made islands in the South China Sea is part of a plan to militarize the area. Why does that worry the US?

XZ: From the US perspective, the broad Asian area is a key area for its strategic presence on a global scale because the US, geographically speaking… has been the de-facto dominant power since the end of WWII in this area. And as China becomes practically and militarily somewhat more productive in this area the US becomes increasingly worried that it might lose its de-facto dominant position in this area. On the other hand, the increasing pro-active position by China is built on increasing sophisticated and powerful military technology in China’s defense and military sector. So these factors make the US increasingly worried.

RT: It's the eve of the UN General Assembly, which is likely to be dominated by the Syria crisis and the fight against ISIL. What do you expect from China in terms of international cooperation on those issues? Can it influence the United States' position?

XZ: Of course, at this stage I won’t expect any radical changes in China’s official stance on issues related to ISIS. But there might be some moderate changes in the near future. China may become more open and active, for example, proposing to set up some platform for international negotiation on China’s territory, that is certainly possible. But at this stage, I don’t think China is the deciding factor. In this particular regard, for example, the stance of Russia may be of much bigger influence in terms of a US decision on its strategy against ISIS.

RT: China holds over a trillion dollars of US debt, but the Chinese economy is seeing a slowdown. Does that, in turn, affect the US economy? It’s a big world, but it is a small world, too. Isn’t it?

XZ: Yes, for example, we heard a lot before President Xi’s visit to the US. We heard a lot of criticism from the US side that the Chinese government is manipulating the exchange rate and China’s stock market is not stable enough, etc. That actually shows from a different angle how important the Chinese economy is to the US. I think you are absolutely right that it’s a small world and the US and China’s economies are highly integrated in this. So, I hope this time the bilateral investment treaty will be successfully signed on President Xi’s visit. So, we all will see a ‘win-win’ situation in this particular regard for both US and China.

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