Dating game diplomacy
This new Asian diplomacy aims to “yin-yang” the two superpowers with insincere tenderness so as to milk each cow for whatever each one is worth.Something of this mentality may well have arrived in Vietnam and Malaysia and, perhaps before long, Indonesia.Under the Philippines’ prior president, the well-intentioned but ineffective Benigno Aquino, Manila’s foreign policy tilted dramatically towards the US; but then the successor government in Manila starts leaning like a drunken sailor in the other direction.
As long as countries in Asia, such as Laos, Cambodia and now, perhaps, the Philippines play proactive binary geopolitics – that is, either Beijing or Washington, one or the other; the new Asian dating game – the now ongoing regional reorientation – will prove bumpy and sometimes brutal.
My only advice to the nations rotating around the land of the rising Chinese sun is to avoid lurching and aim for suavity in diplomacy.
The US State Department, assuming the January inauguration of Clinton, can be expected to make another serious run at East Asia.
As the presumed 45th president of the United States put it to a Wall Street audience a few years ago: “We liberated it.
Any way you figure it, the Philippines pivot is a tactical triumph for Chinese diplomacy.
But I wonder about its sustainability: the Filipino people probably have more fundamental affection for the Americans than the Chinese, whose sudden bonhomie may feel suspiciously – er – fishy.To be sure, the permanent national security government entity that includes the defence and state departments, not to mention the CIA and the overall national security apparatus, are watching, however.This is the permanent locus of America’s geopolitical wariness and obsessions; and it is one US elephant that usually doesn’t forget.From his perspective, China can offer his country more than the US.Let’s face it: Uncle Sam no longer has the wherewithal to be Santa Claus to everyone, all the time – as in the grand old days of goodies for all. The obvious would be that were China to invade the Philippines tomorrow, Washington might look the other way – but China doesn’t need to invade anyone. From the Obamas on down, the White House is in what we term “Outbox” mentality.Kelly Yang is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, an after-school writing program for children in Hong Kong.