The CASS Asia-Pacific Blue Paper underscored the challenges facing China’s peripheral environment in terms of four types of external trends and threats. According to the report: First, the “return” of the United States to Asia has made China less appealing to some of its neighbors, through tapping some long existing disputes and incidental security accidents. Second, instability in Northeast Asia (i.e. North Korea) has become the most serious security challenge to China’s peripheral defense, particularly because of the Cheonon incident and Yeonpyeong artillery shelling. Third, maritime disputes have become an important source of security tension along China’s periphery. Fourth, some non-traditional security issues—water security in particular—have affected China’s stability and its regime security, and China’s relations with some neighbors (World Journal, January 13).
China’s security environment is increasingly challenged by the United States in that the latter has taken the opportunity presented by regional tensions to shore up its alliance with both South Korea and Japan, as well as through trilateral defense coordination. If the United States’ “return” to East Asia has not been enough, Washington is also apparently revamping its relations with some Southeast Asian countries and urging these nations to hedge against China’s rise. In July 2010, Secretary of State Clinton openly challenged China’s position on the South China Sea in her address to the 17th ARF Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi, which was bluntly rebuffed by her Chinese counterpart.
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