China's Tough Talk Puts its Own Interests at Risk
One country is militarizing the South China Sea and destabilizing the peace of Asia. One country is creating wedges between regional powers to prevent cooperation in resolving Southeast Asian maritime disputes. One country is isolating itself by seeding regional conflict that could undercut Asia's economic miracle.
Indo-Pacific powers concerned about its armed revisionism in maritime Asia would identify this country as China. But in the eyes of Adm. Sun Jianguo of China's Central Military Commission, who on June 5 represented his country in Singapore as a keynote speaker at this year's Shangri-La Dialogue, that dangerous nation is in fact the United States.
In the Chinese narrative, it is America's military alliances and presence in the region that contribute to instability in Asia. According to Sun, the U.S. has decided to "sabotage [China's] path of peace for selfish gains," has pursued a "zero-sum mentality" rather than embracing "win-win cooperation," has offered support through alliances that have "enabled small countries to make trouble against big countries," and has single-handedly "militarized" the South China Sea in ways that have sown discord among otherwise harmonious Asian nations.