#13 event report: The New Security Dynamic in Asia-Pacific: A Chinese Perspective

The New Security Dynamic in Asia-Pacific: A Chinese Perspective

December 13, 2011, Bridge Café (Wudaokou)

Speaker: Prof. Dr. ZHU Feng 朱锋, Peking University, Center for International and Strategic Studies


On 13th December 2011, the ThinkIN China invited Professor Zhu Feng to give the community a lecture on the topic of the current security dilemma that China has to face in Asia-Pacific region, especially when US’s return is increasingly manifested, from his perspective as a Chinese scholar and policy advisor. Professor Zhu is the professor at the school of International Studies of Peking University, as well as the deputy director of the Center for International & Strategic Studies (CISS), researching in regional security in East Asia, the nuclear issue in North Korea, American national security strategy, China-US relations and missile defense.

Viewing through the current issues over the world, Professor Zhu picked out a quite hot headline “America’s return to Asia” or “America’s Pacific Century” which was borrowed from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s t paper published in Foreign Policy magazine the other days this year.

What are the sources of dynamics for the outright shift of American foreign policy focus from Middle East to Asia, taking China so seriously? Professor Zhu talked a lot on it, listing 3 sources as follows:

1st source should be the heavy pressure from Obama’s re-election and those hawkish diplomatic officials in the government, urgently insisting on the hard-lined policy towards China, regarding to its growing arrogance and assertiveness.

2nd source should be the lesson learned from the previous shrinking from and overlooking Asia that push America’s real coming.

3rd source should be misperceptions aroused by some sort of Chinese diplomatic practice— Chinese Misconduct, such as the unwillingness to condemn NK, which actually has twisted the focal point of Chinese foreign policy.

All these sources have resulted in a security dilemma for China within Asia-Pacific region. But Chinese are born pragmatic, and the Chinese diplomacy essential principles—ultra-pragmatism and flexibility—are prevailing over China. So Professor Zhu thought highly of the low-profile China diplomatic policy.


The last session of the lecture was followed by a fierce debate among the audience and speaker. Someone asked about the Chinese policy adjustment responding to American return to Asia and China’s policy shift towards the international intervention dealing with the global issues. Professor Zhu thoughtfully gave his own idea and policy advice, that is, China foreign policy should be displayed smartly, although there is domestic public pressure, because people think the government’s foreign policy too soft towards a lot of key issues, such as South China Sea issue. China has not the intention to coerce Vietnam, of course, Americans knew it. So don’t provoke the disturbance and misconception between the neighbors and big powers. About the International intervention, according to the policy shifts coping with the support of the government of Moammar Gadhafii, then the joining the West camp, at last the recognition of the new government in Libya. It can be seen from the case that China foreign policy towards non-intervention has been displaying more subtle and flexible, although Beijing has to concern about the inner issues (for example Tibet and Taiwan) and the public motions.

And some people were more concerned with whose responsibility with regard to South China Sea issue. Professor Zhu attached more responsibility to China because of the coercive policy shift to the neighboring countries who have been actively taking advantage of the US to leverage China in this area. At the end, he pointed out the reconciliation was the win-win way for all the parties.

(Report by JIANG Wei)