Shadow Government

A front-row seat to the Republicans' debate over foreign policy, including their critique of the Biden administration.

Obama’s suck-up to China isn’t working

By Daniel Blumenthal An end of the year meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki exemplifies all that is wrong with Obama’s Asia policy. In a matter of weeks, China blew up the Copenhagen climate change talks and humiliated President Obama, executed a mentally ill Brit on drug possession charges, ...

574995_091230_obamachinaresized2.jpg
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

By Daniel Blumenthal

An end of the year meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki exemplifies all that is wrong with Obama’s Asia policy. In a matter of weeks, China blew up the Copenhagen climate change talks and humiliated President Obama, executed a mentally ill Brit on drug possession charges, and sentenced Liu Xiabo, the human rights activist and political reformer to 11 years in prison.

And what does the Administration do? Call in the Japanese ambassador to, as the Washington Post put it, tell him in “blunt, if diplomatic, terms that the United States remains adamant about moving a Marine base from one part of Okinawa to another.”  

Are we really willing to wreck one of our most successful alliances over a real estate dispute? Meanwhile, as Washington hyperventilates about Japan’s coming entente with China, Prime Minister Hatayoma just concluded a successful visit to India. A deeper Tokyo-Delhi security cooperation pact is not exactly a kowtow to China.

The “kick Japan kiss China approach” is indicative of a larger Obama problem: the inability to distinguish friends from rivals. The administration has frozen sales to Taiwan. Reports out of India indicate that the Obama administration “has signaled its intent to abandon elements in its ties with New Delhi that could rile China, including a joint military drill in Arunachal and any further Indo-U.S. naval maneuvers involving Japan or more parties like Australia.”  

Despite stiffing Obama on issues from human rights (he was supposed to be more effective than his predecessors with his quiet diplomacy — that was the justification for dissing the Dalai Lama), Iran, and climate change, China not only gets a pass, but sits back and grins as Washington undercuts its friends.

As the New Year approaches, it is high time for a review of Asia policy. I suggest beginning with a simple set of questions: why has not a single weapons system been sold to Taiwan, why are we escalating a real estate dispute with Japan to ruinous levels, why is our free trade agreement with South Korea still frozen, and why are we rolling back our cooperation with India? If we are sacrificing pro-ally initiatives for the sake of better relations with China it is not working.

David Gray-Pool/Getty Images

By Daniel Blumenthal

An end of the year meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki exemplifies all that is wrong with Obama’s Asia policy. In a matter of weeks, China blew up the Copenhagen climate change talks and humiliated President Obama, executed a mentally ill Brit on drug possession charges, and sentenced Liu Xiabo, the human rights activist and political reformer to 11 years in prison.

And what does the Administration do? Call in the Japanese ambassador to, as the Washington Post put it, tell him in “blunt, if diplomatic, terms that the United States remains adamant about moving a Marine base from one part of Okinawa to another.”  

Are we really willing to wreck one of our most successful alliances over a real estate dispute? Meanwhile, as Washington hyperventilates about Japan’s coming entente with China, Prime Minister Hatayoma just concluded a successful visit to India. A deeper Tokyo-Delhi security cooperation pact is not exactly a kowtow to China.

The “kick Japan kiss China approach” is indicative of a larger Obama problem: the inability to distinguish friends from rivals. The administration has frozen sales to Taiwan. Reports out of India indicate that the Obama administration “has signaled its intent to abandon elements in its ties with New Delhi that could rile China, including a joint military drill in Arunachal and any further Indo-U.S. naval maneuvers involving Japan or more parties like Australia.”  

Despite stiffing Obama on issues from human rights (he was supposed to be more effective than his predecessors with his quiet diplomacy — that was the justification for dissing the Dalai Lama), Iran, and climate change, China not only gets a pass, but sits back and grins as Washington undercuts its friends.

As the New Year approaches, it is high time for a review of Asia policy. I suggest beginning with a simple set of questions: why has not a single weapons system been sold to Taiwan, why are we escalating a real estate dispute with Japan to ruinous levels, why is our free trade agreement with South Korea still frozen, and why are we rolling back our cooperation with India? If we are sacrificing pro-ally initiatives for the sake of better relations with China it is not working.

David Gray-Pool/Getty Images

Daniel Blumenthal is the director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

More from Foreign Policy

The Taliban delegation leaves the hotel after meeting with representatives of Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Qatar in Moscow on March 19.

China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

Beijing has its eyes set on using Afghanistan as a strategic corridor once U.S. troops are out of the way.

An Afghan security member pours gasoline over a pile of seized drugs and alcoholic drinks

The Taliban Are Breaking Bad

Meth is even more profitable than heroin—and is turbocharging the insurgency.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addresses the U.N. Security Council from her office in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sept. 4, 2020.

Belarus’s Unlikely New Leader

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya didn’t set out to challenge a brutal dictatorship.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid

What the Taliban Takeover Means for India

Kabul’s swift collapse leaves New Delhi with significant security concerns.