The U.S.-Japan alliance requires a fresh new strategy of “Assertive Engagement” toward an increasingly ambitious China to assuage territorial uncertainties in the Asia-Pacific and maximize opportunities for economic influence. That’s the recommendation of “Assertive Engagement: An Updated U.S.-Japan Strategy for China,” an op-ed authored by Sasakawa USA Chairman and CEO Admiral Dennis Blair and Non-Resident Fellow Hiroko Maeda published in The National Interest on May 23. The article serves as a summarized version of a larger report by the same name released in March.
“China’s phenomenal economic growth of the past quarter century has been both enabled and welcomed by the United States and Japan. However, with the economic influence and greatly increased military capability funded by that growth, China has developed the power and influence to assert its claims and interests at the expense of other countries in the region and beyond,” the piece reads. “A combination of historical grievances and authoritarian impulses has fueled China’s persistent and increasingly insistent campaign to expand its current territory and influence around the world. The current American and Japanese strategy of encouraging common economic and diplomatic interests with China, while maintaining military deterrence against direct aggression, is no longer adequate to protect both countries’ interests against Chinese activities such as gray-zone aggression and intellectual-property theft. The U.S.-Japan alliance needs to adopt a more active strategy of its own—“Assertive Engagement”—to protect bilateral interests, while still cooperating with China in forging common responses to common concerns, and equitable and peaceful compromises where interests conflict.”
The current American and Japanese strategy of encouraging common economic and diplomatic interests with China, while maintaining military deterrence against direct aggression, is no longer adequate to protect both countries’ interests against Chinese activities.