Update: And for another view, read this Jamestown Foundation piece "BEIJING'S ALARM OVER NEW "U.S. ENCIRCLEMENT CONSPIRACY" By Willy Lam, which sets out some of China's concern over US maneuvering in Asia.
One of Beijing's worst nightmares seems to be coming true. Having apparently steadied the course in the Middle East, the Bush administration is turning to Asia to tame its long-standing "strategic competitor." While this particular term has been shelved since 9/11 – and Sino-U.S. relations have improved thanks to China's cooperation with Washington's global anti-terrorist campaign – there are signs at least from Beijing's perspective that Washington is spearheading multi-pronged tactics to contain the fast-rising Asian giant.and
In the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership, the new doctrine of encirclement and containment was spelled out during a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tokyo, part of a recent tour through Asia. Echoing President Bush's State of the Union address, which pushed a foreign policy predicated upon "spreading democracy," Rice noted in a speech at Sophia University that "even China must eventually embrace some form of open, genuinely representative government." And she dropped hints that the U.S. would somehow bring about a democratic China through joint actions with its Asian allies. "I really do believe the U.S.-Japan relationship, the U.S.-South Korea relationship, the U.S.-India relationship – all are important in creating an environment where China is more likely to play a positive role than a negative role," she added.
Indeed, Beijing is upbeat that China's fast-expanding global clout – and especially the vast China market – has better enabled the country to drive a wedge between the U.S. and quite a few of its traditional allies. Take Australia, which was one of the staunchest supporters of Washington's war against Iraq. Earlier this year, Prime Minister John Howard made it clear that Canberra would not join in the U.S. effort to lobby the European Union to persevere with its embargo on arms exports to China. And last summer, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer indicated that despite the Australia-U.S. joint defense agreement, Canberra could remain neutral if American forces were involved in a war over the Taiwan Strait. Immediately afterwards, Singapore, another close friend of the U.S., made known a similar stance of neutrality regarding a possible U.S.-China military conflict over Taiwan.Interesting read. (Hat tip to Simon World which is worth a daily look.)
Update2: And don't forget to take a look at The Daily Demarche's China Project which has many interesting bloggers linking in. (Update a to Update2: and here.)
Update3: And Bubblehead at The Stupid Shall Be Punished has some links to Chinese submarine info. And just in case you are geographically challenged, here's a map with the sea lanes China needs to worry about (red stars indicate places it's already taking steps to secure):
And see my earlier posts on Oil, sea lanes and Navies and China Builds Up Strategic Sea Lanes.