China checks the US picket line
By Peter Lee
Dec 22, 2012
The passing year was the People's Republic of China's (PRC) first opportunity to get up close and personal with the United States' pivot back to Asia, the strategic rebalancing that looks a lot like containment.
The PRC spent a lot of 2012 wrestling with contentious neighbors emboldened by the US policy, like Vietnam and the Philippines; combating American efforts to nibble away at the corners of China's spheres of influence on the Korean peninsula and Southeast Asia; and engaging in a test of strength and will with the primary US proxy in the region, Japan.
This state affairs was misleadingly if predictably spun in the Western press as "assertive China exacerbates regional tensions", while a more accurate reading was probably "China's rivals exacerbate regional tensions in order to stoke fears of assertive China."
Whatever the framing, this was the year that the world - and in particular Japan - discovered that the PRC can and could kick back against the pivot.