In his column in this week’s issue of TIME magazine, Fareed Zakaria takes Beijing to task. China has been in the news this week on two different fronts: first, as a political brick likely hurled around during the upcoming U.S. Presidential elections and, second, as the often unspoken subtext behind much of President Barack Obama’s summitry this past week while touring the Asia-Pacific. Obama’s trip, which began at the APEC summit in Hawaii, was a signal of Washington’s intent to reassert itself in East Asia amid rumors of U.S. decline and the undeniable fact of China’s economic and military rise. That Obama’s rhetoric and new engagement with the region has been welcomed in many Asian capitals is a sign of the unease that many feel about the prospect of Chinese supremacy or hegemony.
This is what China gets, says Zakaria, for pursuing policies that show little more than narrow self-interest. He writes:
China might well view [recent U.S. overtures] as the start of a containment policy. It’s not. But the Chinese authorities should reflect on the changing attitudes toward their country, from businessmen in the U.S. to peasants in Africa to diplomats in Australia. People are waking up to China’s enormous impact on the world, and that leads to very close scrutiny of everything China does—and does not do. Beijing is being held to a higher standard, a super-power standard. This is the way the world has looked at the U.S. for decades. Welcome to the club.