Joseph Nye recently spoke to NPR’s Neal Conan about the disputed islands in the East China Sea between China and Japan. Overall, I think Nye adds a helpful voice of moderation within the American public discourse on this issue. In the U.S.-China context, I also fully agree with him that if there is any sort of containment towards China, it is certainly not the same type as conceived by George Kennan against the former Soviet Union where United States allowed no Soviet students and had virtually no trade. However, when Conan posed America’s encirclement as the source of China’s containment fear, I thought it was a mistake for him to outright dismiss the concern in the fashion he did. First, here is how Conan phrased the concern:
CONAN: Yet if you were a Chinese admiral sitting there on the coast and looking out to sea and trying to figure out how to get your navy into the Pacific, all you could see was a series of islands from Japan in the north, all the way down to Australia, all United States allies, all controlling chokepoints that would prevent you from sending those vessels to sea.