Don't Pivot to Beijing

April 12, 2013 2:31 PM

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Responsibility for upending the Obama administration’s initial approach to China belongs overwhelmingly to China itself, which reciprocated the White House’s gestures of deference and graciousness with unprecedented military and diplomatic assertiveness. From torpedoing climate change talks in Copenhagen to muscle flexing in its territorial disputes with its neighbors, Chinese behavior had begun to set off alarm bells not only across Asia, but in Washington, by the end of 2009.

To its credit, the Obama administration then switched gears, and by mid-2010, Secretary of State Clinton was confronting the Chinese over their bullying in the South China Sea—declaring a U.S. national interest in freedom of navigation in these waters at an ASEAN summit in Hanoi, to the applause of ...

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