ISLAMABAD, Dec 9: China's rise is inevitable and, knowing that, “the American Empire” is straining to contain China in order to perpetuate its power and domination of the world, according to a visiting Malaysian scholar.

Dr Chandra Muzaffar, speaking at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) Wednesday, said since the focus of global economy shifted to Southeast Asia, the US had been trying to fortify its entrenched position in the region by quietly pushing the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), an idea originally floated by Australia.

Today the region has become the focal point of US-China engagement because of its economic and strategic potential, observed the Muslim scholar on Asian and Islamic political thought.

It was “mind boggling” that Vietnam, “the nation that suffered US militarism most”, was “all out to embrace the US”, he said, referring to Hanoi's support to US suggestion of a multilateral approach to resolve the ownership disputes over the strategic Spratly Islands in South China Sea.

India too has been hitched by the US to the 'contain China bandwagon', the scholar said. Much before President George Bush signed the civil nuclear technology agreement with India and President Barack Obama announced support to India's desire for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had told India “we will help you become a world power”.

And its close ally Israel has become the second biggest arms supplier to India.

Meanwhile, China had been responding more assertively to US pinpricks on its domestic issues, and the US moves in support of its regional allies Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

These developments could rekindle historical antagonisms and bring to fore lingering disputes and thus causing some concern to the Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) states, he said.

Whether “the two elephants make love or war the grass will get crumpled,” he added. With the US economy emasculated by its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan's frontier region and China knowing that it was in no position to challenge the US militarily, he considered it unlikely they would go for a clash.

Still, historically, empires had proved more dangerous in their decline than at their pinnacle, he noted.

Dr Muzaffar hoped today's American Empire will return to be the Republic its founding fathers had declared it.

He said the US was trying to build India as a counterbalance to rising China to perpetuate its global hegemony. Historically, China had conducted its diplomacy respecting other's sovereignty and territorial rights.

In dealing with the emerging global scenario, he suggested, the Asean countries must assert their independence and sovereignty and develop a “unified foreign policy”.

Asean countries, while recognising the lead role played by the US must ensure that this region was not dominated or controlled by outside forces, he said.

Director-General of Institute of Strategic Studies Dr Tanvir Ahmad Khan said 'contain China' was an umbrella phrase and the task included many other dimensions. Increasingly, America was being referred to as a “wounded empire” and it was clear that a wounded empire does more damage as it fades away or as it tries to recapture its lost glory. However, the moment when China could have been contained was over, he said. China had very wisely avoided conflict and had placed itself in a position where its relative lack of military power had been compensated by its growing economic power, he said.

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