A Reuters article on Tuesday claimed that "Asia is sliding into a dangerous arms race as smaller nations that once stayed on the sidelines build arsenals of advanced long-range missiles." It said that it is "driven by security concerns over China and a desire to reduce their reliance on the US."
Western countries, especially the US, have repeatedly hyped up the "China threat" for a long time. Washington has been urging Asian countries, particularly its allies and partners, to reinforce their military strength and strengthen long-range strike capabilities. The latter can be achieved by either developing or purchasing missiles. Yet only a few of these countries have the ability to develop missiles by themselves. Most countries will have to turn to the US to purchase missiles.
The US' purpose is clear: As the world's leading arms dealer, Washington intends to create more panic among Asian countries by sensationalizing the "China threat" theory, making them feel that their security is threatened by China. This will encourage them to buy more weapons and equipment, including missiles, from Washington.
As a matter of fact, Asian countries' "security concerns over China" is a notion that is completely hyped by the US. China has no intention to threaten any country. China has always adhered to the principle of being a friendly neighbor and pursued peaceful development.
The US would like to see an arms race in Asia. If China's neighboring countries start an arms race, Beijing will be forced to participate in it. This will drag down China's economic development. On the other hand, the US will benefit from it: Apart from heavily profiting from arms sales, Washington can realize its intention of relying on allies and partners to counter Beijing. Since Biden took office, his administration has ratcheted up efforts in rallying allies against China on many occasions.
If there is really an arms race in Asia, Washington should assume the major responsibility.
Beijing should expose the US calculations to the international community, helping US' Asian allies fully understand the US' ultimate purpose and that an arms race will impair their own strength. Washington has labeled Beijing as a strategic competitor, sparing no efforts to counter China's development. By inciting the "China threat" theory and piling pressure on its allies to invest in defense capabilities, Washington intends to stir up an arms race in the region. In this context, Washington can keep itself out of the matter but manipulate its allies as puppets to achieve its goal of containing China with little cost.
The US allies in the Asia-Pacific region may not be naive about the Washington's ultimate intent. But given Washington's constant imposition of coercion and deterrence, these countries have to follow the US' lead on some occasions. Apart from exposing the US' evil intention, China should ensure the international community, including the US' allies, that we are a peace-loving country. China is developing its military strength only to safeguard its national security. China neither wants to engage in an arms race with any country, nor seek regional or global hegemony.
By contrast, Washington wants to see China and US allies and partners engage in an arms race — it knows this will damage both Beijing and other Asian countries. But fortunately, US allies and partners will not be easily fooled. Although Washington sees China as its top competitor, its allies and partners do not regard China in the same way. The current age is different from the Cold War era in which the world was divided into two blocs. Washington's conspiracy to create further friction between China and other countries, in a bid to help itself better contain China, will not succeed.
The author is a Chinese military expert and commentator.