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The China Containment Policy is a current political belief that U.S. foreign policy strives to diminish the economic and political growth of the People’s Republic of China. The term, which primarily originates from political analysts in China, harks of the U.S. containment policy against the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Taken to its national conclusion, proponents of this realist theory claim the U.S. will or needs to seek a divided and weak China to continue its hegemony in Asia. It is thought this shall be accomplished by establishing military, economic, and diplomatic ties to countries adjacent to China's borders. If so, American proponents of this policy espouse U.S. military activities in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, South Korea, and Japan are only U.S. intentions to diminish the P.R.C. regional power. Additionally, U.S. efforts to improve relations with India and Vietnam would also be examples of the U.S. utilizing its economic influence to "box in" the P.R.C.

This version of containment should not be confused with the previous versions of the theory initially proposed by George Kennan in the 1940s to counter the Comintern. This original version, which later expanded to include the P.R.C. after 1949, included shutting off all trade, cultural and educational exchanges, and political recognition to the P.R.C. starting with a formal denormalization of diplomatic relations. It may also be noted that the question of the legitimacy of the P.R.C. versus the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the rightful representatives of the Chinese people under international law and as recognized by the United Nations was within this context.



Chinese analysts put forward as justification for the policy deriving from some U.S. concerns of China's rapidly expanding military. Additionally, China feels the U.S. has indicted the P.R.C. for its ever-growing trade deficit with the United States, its poor human rights record, and its aggressive stance on annexing Taiwan.

Chinese political commentators often portray this attitude as current U.S. foreign policy. This opinion is often reported in mainstream Chinese media outlets as a primary goal of U.S. policy. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denied there was such a policy.[1]

The 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy states that China has 'the greatest potential of any nation to militarily compete with the US and field disruptive military technologies that over time offset traditional US advantages.'[2] The document continues by stating that China must be more open in reporting its military expenditures and refrain from "locking up" energy supplies by continuing to obtain energy contracts with disreputable regimes in Africa and Central Asia.[3] The policy assumes that measures should be taken against China to prevent it from seeking hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region and/or worldwide.[4]

Strategic alliances

US – India: It is assumed was established or reconfirmed during Bush’s visit to India in March 2006. The media speculated about the US using India to contain China, claims that the Indian officials publicly denied.[5][6]

US – Japan – Australia: Labeled by the Asian media as a "little NATO against China" or the new "triple alliance", or "the axis of democracy" by the Economist.[7] Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Australia in March 2006 for the "trilateral security forum" with the Japanese foreign minister Taro Aso and his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer.[8][9]

Japan - Australia: On March 15, 2007 both nations signed a strategic military partnership agreement,[10] which analysts believe is aimed at alienating China.[11]


Australia: Australia has a growing dependency on China’s market. Its mining industry is booming thanks to China. Ahead of the visit by Condoleezza Rice and her warning about China becoming a "negative force" Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, warned that Australia does not agree with a policy of containment of China. Australia has recently initiated an annual security dialogue with China.

India: India's trade with China is growing at a pace that could overtake the US – Indian trade by the end of the decade. By the end of 2007 China will emerge as India’s largest trading partner. Bush’s visit to India is seen also as an attempt to boost bilateral trade and keep some influence by offering India something that only US can provide, high nuclear technology. China is USA’s main trading partner while India ranks 24.[12]

Japan: Although the economy of the United States is 4.2 times larger than China’s, China has already overtaken the US as Japan’s largest trading partner. China gives imports from Japan preference and priority over the US which has been an important factor in the recovery of Japan's for a decade stagnant economy.

See also


  1. ^ US denies containment policy against China. China Daily. March 17, 2006.
  2. ^ Hawkins, William R (June 2, 2007). The dangers in talking to China. Asia Times Online.
  3. ^ Bush, George (March 2006). The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. The White House.
  4. ^ Feng, Huiyun (2007). Chinese strategic culture and foreign policy decision-making: Confucianism, leadership and war. Routledge. p.81. ISBN 978-0415418157.
  5. ^ Nuclear deal no threat to China, Pak: Narayanan. March 2006. Online News.
  6. ^ Gilani, Iftikhar (March 18, 2006). "US-India N-deal should not threaten Pakistan, China". Daily Times.
  7. ^ Australia and Japan cosy up. The Economist. March 16, 2007.
  8. ^ Jain, Purnendra (March 18, 2006). "A 'little NATO' against China". Asia Times Online.
  9. ^ Weisman, Steven (March 17, 2006). "Rice and Australian Counterpart Differ About China". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Graeme Dobell (March 18, 2007). Japan, Australia declare strategic partnership. ABC News Online Australia.
  11. ^ Walters, Patrick; Callick, Rowan (March 16, 2007). India's inclusion in security pact risks alienating China. The Australian.
  12. ^ Thakurta, Paranjoy Guha (March 15, 2006). "China could overtake US's India trade". Asia Times Online.

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