Why Chinese State Media Blames America for Just About Everything

News flash for Beijing: Washington isn't the puppet master you seem to think.

cfr china article.jpg
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing. (Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's swing through Asia has been marked by a revelation in Beijing: the source of all China's problems with its neighbors is the United States. A Xinhua editorial paints the United States as a "sneaky trouble maker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings." In the Global Times, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences scholar Ni Feng states that the U.S. pivot is "stirring up tensions between China and its neighbors"; while Renmin University scholar Jin Canrong argues that Washington aims to "dominate the region's political agenda, and build a Trans-Pacific Partnership that excludes China, as well as further consolidate its military edge."

Fortunately, these same media and analysts have a relatively simple answer to the problem: the "U.S. owes China convincing explanation of true intentions of its Asia Pivot policy"; the United States needs to prove that it is "returning to Asia as a peacemaker, instead of a troublemaker"; and a real zinger from the Global Times, "We hope Clinton can reflect upon the deep harm she is bringing to the Sino-U.S. relationship in the last few months before she leaves office and try to make up for it."

If only it were that simple. Unfortunately, when the problem is misstated, the solution is likely to be as well. China's problems in the region do not originate with the United States but with China's own interactions with its neighbors. Some context might help:

First, take the South China Sea, perhaps the source of Beijing's greatest concern at the moment. Tensions in the region--particularly between China and Vietnam and China and the Philippines--have been heightened over the past year. However, conflict between China and its neighbors (as well as among the neighbors themselves) in the South China Sea has been a fact of life for almost forty years. The year-old U.S. pivot did not create the problem nor did it exacerbate it. U.S. policy has been consistent. In 1995, Washington explicitly supported the 1992 ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea, as well as any diplomatic effort to resolve competing claims peacefully. More than 15 years later, Secretary of State Clinton articulated U.S. policy as follows: "The United States does not take a position on competing territorial claims ... but we believe the nations of the region should work collaboratively to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation and certainly without the use of force. That is why we encourage ASEAN and China to make meaningful progress toward finalizing a comprehensive code of conduct in order to establish rules of the road and clear procedures for peacefully addressing disagreements."

Presented by

Elizabeth Economy is a senior fellow and Director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and blogs for "Asia Unbound."

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Global

Just In