Friday, November 14, 2014

China in the driver's seat

Not until the recent APEC in Beijing I was perplexed and unsure what the Chinese were doing raising tensions in the neighborhood. Things are starting to be clearer now.

The saber rattling is giving way to olive branches. Throughout the last few years, the Chinese were in the driver's seat in her relationship with the rest of Asia as I watched how the rest of us were just reacting.

If the region forget that excepting economics, China is still a kid, the last few years have put paid to that notion.

There will always be slow learners and too many who can only learn life's lessons the hard way. I imagine the discussions of the national leaders of each country, their experience with China in recent years would have caused them to think quite differently about this newly assertive giant. I think China's leaders pretty much want this.

When I saw the icy handshake between Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe, you could tell that Xi Jinping was the more powerful and confident personality and for a brief half second Abe appeared tentative, almost hoping that Xi Jinping would be friendlier. If Xi Jinping would only break into a smell, Abe would be in a hurry to reciprocate. Of course that opportunity never came.

What we have seen is the Chinese version of Theodore Roosevelt carrying a big stick but speaking softly. The Chinese do not speak softly but in ways reminiscent of ancient imperial tradition. Next year all the defence ministers are invited to Beijing to talk shop.

Singapore is shrewd to step up military relations with China. Very good timing.

No comments:

Post a Comment