The Impact of US-China Regional Competition on Regional Equations and Order in East Asia

Document Type : Research Paper


1 MA holder in political science from Isfahan University

2 Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Isfahan


China has become an important and influential player in Asia-Pacific region in recent years. Economic, political, and military development of this country was introduced in the 1970s via an open-door policy, leading to the country turning into one of the most influential players in the international community. In the meantime, one of the issues that is discussed for nearly a decade is the question of modernizing and expanding China's military capabilities. This has brought the United States to the fore by pursuing two strategies of containment and accountability, an attempt to seek accountability and balance against China. The United States, therefore, has strengthened its ties with China by concluding treaties with India and, on the other hand, has pursued a strategic alliance with Japan, encouraging it to strengthen its militaristic power and play a greater role in the international arena. It tries to balance its power with China. US security alliances and extensive military relations with countries around China, including Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, etc. can also be assessed. The North Korean missile crisis is also seen as an acute security dilemma in Washington's foreign policy in the East Asia region. In doing so, Pyongyang proves reluctant to carry out nuclear tests.
Being qualitative and practical, the present study is a "descriptive-analytical research" in terms of its method of implementation. Its required information has been collected and used through library studies (documents, books, articles and journals, websites, etc.) and searches on the Internet and databases, specialized journals and journals.
Results and Discussion
During the past four decades, China has become a significant actor in the region, standing at the level of a powerful global player in all major international issues, especially economic ones, where business and business environment are influenced to a large extent. The recent years has seen China’s development process expanding from the economic sphere to other areas. One of the most important areas to witness accelerated development and renovation is the military domain. The concerns of Washington's military strategies have triggered the efforts of both USA and China inside Asia-Pacific region. In order to prevent Chinese influence in Central Asia region, the United States tries to rely on the countries of this region by deploying military capability (Jozani Kohan and Jozani Kohan, 1396: 37). Washington is trying to reduce China's role and influence by expanding India's military capability and increasing its role in regional relations as well as by engaging it in the Asia-Pacific regional order. Therefore, India views its growing relationship with the United States as an important gateway to becoming a great power (Khazri, 1390: 689). Also, the December 2013 meeting of the Singapore Secretary of Defense and the US Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon underscored the expansion of bilateral military cooperation. Singapore is seeking to counter China's widespread economic and social influence by seeking close ties with the United States. At the same time, Vietnam, which has experienced the bloody war of 1956 to 1973 with the United States, has also renewed its relations with the United States since the emergence of China in July 2011. Only two months later, in September 2011, the two sides signed an agreement to promote bilateral defense cooperation, followed by annual bilateral defense talks. The South Korean-American alliance has also been a powerful component of the Asia-Pacific regional order for the past six decades. With China's economic and military power increasing along with its role in Asia-Pacific in recent years, the United States has also emphasized Taiwan to pressure China and increase tensions in the region to engage China in regional conflicts and diminish its global role (Tabatabai and Ghyasi, 2013: 272). The US government believes that the Chinese state, which has the largest land borders with North Korea, could be the controlling factor of Pyongyang to end the crisis in the region (Swaine, 2017: 6). In pursuit of realistic and pragmatic policy, the American president, Donald Trump, seeks to capitalize on China's influence in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis and place some of North Korea's containment on China.
China's quest for increased military power and funding has received widespread reactions from major powers as well as its Asian neighbors. In the meantime, the United States, as the only superpower left from the Cold War era with widespread interests around the globe, especially in Asia, is concerned about China's rise as an economic and, more importantly, military power more than any other international player. In this regard, the United States seeks to establish broad military and security relationships, increase its presence, and conduct military maneuvers in Asia, not to mention signing military contracts with Japan, India, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan as China’s competitors and political alliances. A further military contract with Australia and Indonesia, two middle powers in the region, will isolate the country in the end. Moreover, the United States prioritizes managing its relationships with its longtime enemy, Vietnam, to a normal level in order to limit China. Another issue that has challenged Washington's policies in East Asia is the North Korean missile crisis, which the US government seeks to address by pressuring China with Russian cooperation. In this regard, authorities in Washington consider China to be a key element for containment and control of Pyongyang so as to end the missile crisis in the East Asia region. Thus they have been trying to put Beijing under pressure. The end result of a series of US counter-measures against China has so far reduced Chinese economic growth from about 9% to 6%, boosting US economic growth from about 4% to 6%, which could lead to this conclusion that the measures of USA has, in part, inhibited China's unilateral economic-military growth.


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Volume 53, Issue 1
April 2021
Pages 243-264
  • Receive Date: 22 April 2019
  • Revise Date: 15 January 2020
  • Accept Date: 15 January 2020
  • First Publish Date: 21 March 2021