Ever since the global economic downturn started around 2008, China’s economic clout had been increasing. And the Obama administration soon after it came to power made special efforts to woo China to seek help in stemming its own economic decline. Apparently China’s global ambitions were strengthened by this. So it was not surprising that it showed reluctance to play ball with Obama administration’s efforts to turn it into a partner in international affairs.
However, one of the important reasons for Chinese reluctance is the suspicion about the U.S. intentions in Asia, where the U.S. had been developing strategic convergence in its relations with India. This was made clear in China’s Defence White Paper 2008 that spoke of ‘increasing US military presence in Asia-Pacific.’ China is wary of a US sponsored creation of an anti-Chinese axis extending from India to Japan. Though this was not referred to by General Ma Xiaotian, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the PLA, while speaking at the Shangri La Dialogue 2010 he said “we believe that maintaining security in the Asia-Pacific region serves China’s interest, and it is also China’s responsibility.” Apparently, the Chinese Navy’s increasingly assertive posture in South China Sea is only an affirmation of this policy.