America's senior Asia diplomat, Kurt Campbell, made an intervention yesterday in the debate generated by Hugh White's The China Choice and the speech former Prime Minister Paul Keating made at the book launch.
Campbell deployed a familiar straw man, saying that he wanted to 'reject out of hand' that the US was in decline: 'The US is going to be a dynamic and powerful player in Asia for many decades to come.' Australian politicians are also fond of that line, as if it's some kind of killer blow to the arguments made by Keating and White. But I doubt either of them contest the simple fact that the US will remain a global power for the foreseeable future.
Campbell's more important criticism was that the power-sharing arrangement which critics like White and Keating call for is already coming into being. From Peter Hartcher's article:
He said that "no country has taken more trouble to engage with China" than the US. If anything, the US had been giving China more responsibility in global affairs than it was comfortable with. "Look at the role they play in international relations in the global economy, look at the role they play across the spectrum," he said, citing Iran, Syria, North Korea and issues of nuclear non-proliferation. "You name it, there are ample opportunities for China to play a larger role in politics."
He said that "not just the US but every country in Asia is seeking to have more space for China".
Malcolm Turnbull made a similar point yesterday during the Canberra launch of The China Choice.