Containment for the US is the act of restricting either China’s growth, or its influence on other countries of the world. In sharp contrast to harsh gestures of antagonism related to this strategy, engagement is a friendly gesture, such as extending status of most-favored nation (MFN) to China, overlooking human rights violations, coercion and subversion at the state level. Interestingly, both strategies have often been employed simultaneously.

In 1971, a ping pong competition at which athletes from these two rival countries had also gathered proved to be a lucky strike for an official visit later on, of American players to China. The breakthrough at once heralded the visit of US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger facilitated by Pakistan in 1971, and Richard Nixon’s subsequent visit to China in 1972. This was in fact the beginning of détente, which in due course of time, normalized relations.

But in 1981, China launched protests against the provocative US action of selling arms to Taiwan, a sensitive nuclear flash point in Asia Pacific, with some eyes simultaneously beginning to see China as a US rival. However, the Chinese openly condemned terrorist attacks on Twin Towers and Pentagon in September 11, 2001, and extended heart-felt sympathies.

The situation again worsened, where on one hand, “the school of skeptics” in the US thought that China gained more in regard to trade boom, cooperation in the field of science and technology, and security than those the US did. On the other hand, a slightly earlier accidental collision of a US Navy aircraft with Chinese Navy J-811 jet near Hainan Island in April 2001 was rather unpleasant. Furthermore, in September 2001, the US imposed sanctions against China for crushing human rights during Tiananmen Square demonstrations 1989. On the contrary, Chinese fears came to surface when the US started working on bases in neighboring states of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

In July 2010, the US administration under Barak Obama tried to conduct military exercises in the Yellow Sea. In response, Chinese administration voiced strong-worded objections and compelled the US to shift the venue of exercises out of Yellow Sea. In fact, ever since the oil discovery in the uninhabited and disputed Senkaku Islands, there have been more air force and navy movements. As reported by “Washington Post” June 22, 2012, the Obama administration showed its intention to revamp Asian strategy and sought “to return to South Asian bases” in view of a fast rising China. In pursuit of this strategy of containment, the Pentagon discussed with Thailand about the possibility of founding a disaster-relief centre, in place of an American-built airfield. Moreover, Defense Secretary, Leon E. Panetta visited naval and air base near Vietnam Bay. Again on November 30, 2013, Chinese jets intercepted US and Japanese military aircraft which were flying through “air defense identification zone” declared unilaterally by China.

The purpose of the second visit of US President Obama to India, for three days in February 2015, was to hammer out deals especially on co-production of defense items and support for India’s permanent seat in the UNSC. Looking at this visit in the above-mentioned perspective, it appears to be another highly radical move. China is interested in the water of Brahmaputra River, which could become a major cause for India to change its foreign policy. An alliance between the US and India could be a joint effort against a common rival. This line of approach entails clearly that the US does not want to give China its share of world power, not even in China’s own region.

China has also been preparing a response since its appearance on the world map as the Peoples’ Republic of China, where it is fighting mainly on four fronts. The first is trade, where its neighbors have overtaken the US trade with Japan and India. The second front is military action, with China strongly retaliating any attempt made near the Islands of Senkaku, Spratly, or in South China Sea which it has always claimed its own. The third is a diplomacy front, where Shanghai Corporation Organization (SCO) can play a pivotal role. Unlike that of the Soviet Union, China, whose military power is based on economy, would not invade as long as the people of Taiwan are not willing to be ruled by a nuclear army. Nevertheless, a reunification of Korea in near future would make the presence of American forces there unnecessary. Besides, if the US is trying to build meaningful relations with the countries near China, then following the track shown by the competitor, it must develop meaningful relations with Latin American countries. The fourth front is development of forces – land, air and navy – along with especially arms to meet with vast variety of challenges.

In the context of the question of how the future unfolds itself, the importance of BRICS as brought home about development of Brazil, Russia, India and China by Jim O’ Neill in his book “The Growth Map” cannot be ignored. Two of O’ Neill’s colleagues at Goldman Sachs, Dominic Wilson and Roopa Purushotaman have carried the BRICS theme forward in a follow-up paper. They state that “by 2035, China could overtake the US to become the largest economy in the world and by 2039 the combined GDP of the BRICS economies could become bigger than that of G7.” Obviously, these countries have learnt lessons, not only from Western model. They are benefitting from one another’s experiences, as India is benefitting from China, the art of raising living standards of more than one billion people.

The technology which Chinese people now have learnt and benefitted from, no one can snatch away from them. Their trade is a well-maintained competition; however a problem could be created by intercepting trade routes or oil pipes from the Persian Gulf through the sea to China. But these tactics could fail either like a misfire or backfire like a boomerang.

Two more unanswerable questions are: How far are China and its allies are capable of responding to US? And is there any fun in a conflict when Chinese system is turning towards a free market economy, which is an integral part of capitalism? What is being suggested here is that the US as well as China are two best examples of man’s progress and prosperity. They should also be the paragon of peaceful life because war damages both sides, and thus provides no solution to problems. The answer is convergence, where it is hoped that the world will be a better place to live.

Unfortunately, it is a hard fact of history that the world in general has many misconceptions about China and its people. The huge population and area are not a threat because it has never been expansionist, where both area and man power are enough for them. Although Chinese ‘antiquity” has been highlighted in such a way as if Chinese are immune to change, the truth is that it is one of those modern countries which has been inspired both by Marxism and US techno-scientific advancement. Most of the false allegations such as of “great immorality” or of welcoming the carcass of dog or cat as valuable healthy food have gained recognition, because these stories were the product of German philosopher Hegel and the English economist Adam Smith who wrote the “Wealth of Nations.” What a stroke of irony, that none of the two ever visited China. At the same time, it is certainly surprising why the world has turned deaf to Marco Polo’s admiration for Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan who requested his Uncle Nicolo Polo to make a journey to his native city Geneva and return with one hundred missionaries to teach Christianity to his people.