by Wu Liming
BEIJING, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to make a rare trip to the Cook Islands on Thursday, starting a six-nation tour to the Asia-Pacific region.
Why is Clinton going to pay a trip to a nation of just 11,000 people? Quite a number of analysts say the visit is aimed at curbing China's growing influence among the region's small island nations.
It is true that one objective of Clinton's tour is to contain China's increasing influence, but the core of U.S. strategy is to defend its dominance and hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region.
In the second half of last century and the early years of this one, the U.S. strategy focus had been in Europe. During the administration of George W. Bush, Washington exerted more energy on waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Over the past two years, the U.S. held high the banner of "returning to Asia-Pacific." The change of strategy focus was voiced by President Barack Obama, who announced a shift of strategic "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific region when addressing the Australian parliament last year.
The U.S. has taken substantial steps to put the strategy shift into practice.
Washington has tightened its military cooperation with its traditional allies in the region including Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines and others, dubbing it a "strategy of rebalancing."
For instance, the U.S. announced a rotational Marine Corps presence and aircraft deployments in northern Australia, The U.S. Navy will deploy its first littoral combat ship (LCS) in Singapore beginning from the second quarter of 2013.
Over the past two years, the U.S. has staged a number of joint military exercises and drills with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and other nations. Last year, the volume of U.S. overseas arms sales hit a record high of 66.3 billion U.S. dollars, the lion's share coming from the Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in June that America will boost its presence in the Asia-Pacific region and that by 2020 the U.S. navy will reposture its forces from today's roughly 50-50 percent split between the Pacific and the Atlantic to about a 60-40 split between the two oceans.
What's "impressing" is that Washington has resorted to diplomatic, economic and strategic means, which Clinton has dubbed "smart power," to create disturbances in the Asia-Pacific region.
First of all, the U.S. made full use of territorial and maritime disputes in the region to fit its own gain. Take China's Diaoyu Islands for example. The U.S. declined to clarify the issue. Instead, it claimed the application of a U.S.-Japan security treaty involving the Diaoyu Islands.
What's more, at the very time when China and Japan were involved in diplomatic disputes concerning the islands, the U.S. invited Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces to participate in a 37-day Pacific Ocean military drill.
Secondly, the U.S. has tried to alienate China from countries around the South China Sea. In 2002, China and relevant countries signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and they have been on a stable track to resolve disputes through bilateral friendly consultations. But the U.S. suddenly showed "interest" in the issue and repeatedly made trouble to complicate the issue.
Obviously, Washington's approach is not conducive to the peaceful settlement of the disputes as well as the peace and stability in the area.
Thirdly, the U.S. played the economic card. In recent years, China and other nations in the Asia-Pacific region have tightened their economic cooperation. It is sheerly market-driven in the wave of economic globalization. However, the U.S. was jealous of the trend and resorted to diplomatic and economic means to alienate China from those nations.
For one thing, since 2009, the U.S. has tried hard to promote TTP (the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement), aiming to seek the status of steering the Asia-Pacific economic development.
This is, perhaps, one of the reasons that Clinton is to visit the Cook Islands.
In brief, Washington intends to benefit from stirring up disputes among nations in the Asia-Pacific, through which the U.S. wants to resume its hegemony in the region. That's the essence of so-called "smart power."
History has repeatedly proven that outside intervention in resolving territorial or maritime disputes is doomed to be in tragedy.
To be frank, U.S. power is declining and it hasn't enough economic strength or resources to dominate the Asia-Pacific region.
For one thing, China has taken America's place as Japan's biggest exporting market. In 2010, the share of the Chinese market accounted for some 20 percent of Japan's exports, while that of the U.S decreased to 15 percent.
In addition, China has already become the biggest trading partner of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
What's more important, it is unwise for Washington to regard China as its rival and contain it.
The U.S. and China are the biggest and second biggest economies in the world, and they rely on each other heavily. Relations between the two nations are, by no means, a zero-sum game. The two nations should not regard each other as a threat because a fight between the two would hurt both sides.
What the U.S. has to abandon is its surreal ambition of ruling the Asia-Pacific region and the world.