Beijing is especially worried by the way in which neighboring countries involved in maritime territorial disputes with their giant neighbor, such as Vietnam and the Philippines, have turned to Washington for support as China has turned up the heat on them. (Read more about the complex web of interests involved in the territorial disputes here)
“US influence in the region is rising, while China’s is decreasing,” says Du Jifeng, a Southeast Asia expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government-run think tank. “We should not further stimulate conflicts with our neighbors.”
“There is tremendous demand and expectation of US leadership in the region,” US National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon said in a speech in Washington on Thursday. “The demand signals, I think, at this point today, are unprecedented.”
From Beijing, such comments sound as if Washington is seeking to drive a wedge between China and its neighbors. Policymakers here have not forgotten Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s remark in Cambodia two years ago, when she said: “You don’t want to get too dependent on one country,” responding to a question about Phnom Penh’s relations with China.