Chinese state media on Monday played down the impact of greater US involvement in Asia-Pacific after US President Barack Obama’s week-long trip in the region, saying there was “no need to panic”.
Obama flew back to the United States on Saturday after taking part in a trio of summits, where he announced greater military involvement in the region with a new US Marines force in Australia and vowed to push for reform in Myanmar.
His journey to Australia and Indonesia highlighted a US power shift towards dynamic Asia, amid growing US rivalry with China. That came after an APEC summit in Hawaii.
“China does not need to panic about the US return to Asia,” the state-run, nationalistic Global Times said in its English and Chinese-language versions.
“Facing a weak economic recovery, the US can do nothing but make some strategic mobilization as self-consolation.”
The daily newspaper added in an editorial that China “has the upper hand in the Sino-US competition and the US return to Asia cannot change the situation.”
The two countries are economically interdependent, but they increasingly squabble on currency, trade and maritime security.
During last week’s trip, the United States told China that as a “grown-up” economy it must obey the “rules of the road”, and Obama insisted the United States does not “fear” China and does not want to contain it.
His trip came ahead of the start of an annual China-US trade meeting on Sunday in the Asian nation, which is expected to be frosty as the US blames Chinese trade policies for its economic woes.
In an editorial, the official China Daily said Beijing broadly welcomed greater US presence in Asia, pointing out that Obama’s trip was also geared towards US voters ahead of elections next year.
“Constructive US engagement with the local economies and more direct interaction will create jobs not only for Americans,” the English-language daily said.
But it accused Obama of trying to “scare-monger by exaggerating ‘security concerns'” in the South China Sea, which is at the heart of territorial disputes between Beijing and many of its neighbours.
“He is obviously worrying too much… Just as Premier Wen Jiabao told Obama, China and its Asian neighbours are doing fine, and the shipping lanes in the South China Sea are ‘safe and free’.”