When comparing countries from around the world, the United States ranks “high” or “highest” in many categories (such as quality of higher education, overall quality of life, and economic size), but also ranks “highest” in terms of military spending, number of overseas military bases, and number of military personnel deployed in countries other than the United States and its territories.
In the greater China region, the U.S. has played a historical military role which remains fresh in the minds of China and her citizens. From establishing American colonial settlements (for example, in Shanghai in the1840’s), defending American colonial interests in the Boxer Rebellion (1900), aiding both the Nationalists and Communists before and during World War 2, and sending aircraft carriers to the Taiwan Straits (as U.S. President Eisenhower did in 1954-1955, and U.S. President Clinton did in 1996), the United States has played an active military role in greater China.
Current State of Affairs
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States stands as the world’s largest (some would say “sole”) military superpower. The U.S. has established military bases and stationed military personnel around the world (including in Asia), and spends more on military spending than all other countries in the world combined.
While America often prods China to be more transparent in describing its military ambitions, it is the U.S. which has encircled China with military bases, missiles, and all other means of war.
American Bases Surround China’s Border
The end of World War 2 saw the U.S. establish a large military presence in Japan, and that military presence continues to this day.
In America, the conflict on the Korean peninsula (1950-1953) is called the Korean War. In China, the conflict is translated as “The War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea” (Mandarin: kang mei yuan chao zhan zheng). While the U.S. and China haven’t had a direct, large-scale military conflict since 1953, the armistice on the Korean peninsula resulted in a large American military presence very close to China’s border.
In addition to a large military presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan (which share a border with China), the U.S. has military bases or significant military presences in Iraq, the central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and the Southeast Asian nations of Indonesia and Singapore. The U.S. also has a strategic military relationship with Taiwan (also called the Republic of China, or Taiwan R.O.C) as defined in the Taiwan Relations Act.
While many in the world fear the military rise of China, China’s military actions can be seen as defensive in nature. In the past 100 years China has had only internal/local conflicts and minor military skirmishes with its neighbors, and maintains a limited nuclear arsenal to act as a deterrent. China has responded to the U.S. militarization of space and is modernizing its navy and air force, but these moves are in response to U.S.-backed challenges to space, naval, and air superiority in the Asia region.
Given America’s surrounding of China with military bases, America’s military history in Asia, and the American embracement of the principle of “preventative war,” China views itself as a possible target of U.S. or U.S.-backed military action.
China has not established military bases around the world, and has not sought to establish military bases in countries bordering the United States or its territories. Still a developing country, China is looking to avoid conflicts that might slow worldwide economic growth and result in the downfall of China’s ruling Communist Party.
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Sources: Mother Jones, U.S. Department of Defense, lewrockwell.com