Another Perspective on the US, China, and Containment

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Writing on the occasion of President Obama’s November 2014 trip to Beijing for the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, John V. Walsh asks whether China might contain the United States. Walsh inverts the conventional question—Can the U.S. contain China?—and observes that, as far as East Asia is concerned, “History tells us that the West with its missionaries and soldiers, Obama’s predecessors, bathed the region in suffering and bloodshed.” In that expanded context, Walsh considers whether China might “restrain the U.S. from doing more damage in East Asia” and elsewhere in the developing world. Due to its economic and military powers, Walsh writes, “China should be able to provide to the world alternatives to the diktats of the West.”

For example, Walsh analyzes China’s developing relations with Russia. The second of two major petroleum pipeline deals between Russia and China, involving the Western or Altai line (as reported in the U.S. edition of China Daily) provides China with “abundant petroleum resources that cannot be interdicted at sea by the massive U.S. Navy.” In addition to petroleum, China has led in the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which will provide capital for regional investments. Just a few weeks before the APEC meetings, 21 nations—including India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Pakistan—joined China in launching the AIIB. Three nations that did not join—Australia, Indonesia, South Korea—are widely believed to have backed out due to U.S. pressure. In this view, China’s infrastructure and economic projects “herald a new and welcome multipolar world,” Walsh writes. Beyond its economic power, he continues, “China has sufficient military strength to repel an attack by the West – although not to launch one.”

Although the corporate media provided ample coverage of President Obama’s visit to China and the APEC summit, this coverage typically reflects a pro-U.S. stance, while omitting anything about the Chinese perspective or the history of U.S. involvement in East Asia. Walsh’s analysis provides an important counterpoint to that limited perspective.

Source: John V. Walsh, “Obama’s Pivot to Asia: Can China Contain America?,” Dissident Voice, November 16, 2014,

Student Researchers: Julia Zinsmeyer and Micaela Furman (Beaver Country Day School)

Faculty Evaluator: Kader Adjout (Beaver Country Day School)