WANG HUI Washington should join hands with regional powers to promote economic growth, regional integration and stability. While projecting its influence in the Asia Pacific region, the US should remember that it needs to assume a more constructive role in order to be a welcoming and respectable player in the regional affairs. However, a constructive role means that Washington should contribute to regional economic development and integration. As a superpower with international responsibilities, it ought to join hands with regional powers to create a more peaceful and harmonious environment, so that the Asian countries can devote themselves to building a better life for their people. Emerging economies in the Asia Pacific region are deemed as a dynamic force driving the wheels of global economic recovery. Thus, Washington should work to promote trade liberalisation and economic integration in the region, so as to ensure a sustained and balanced growth. At the same time, playing a constructive role also requires that Washington should act fairly and objectively whenever there is a row between the neighbouring states that could jeopardise regional stability. When such disputes occur, it should not try to take advantage of the situation to achieve its own interests. Regrettably, over the past two years, during which Washington has trumpeted its return to the Asia Pacific region, its manoeuvres have often been unconstructive and divisive. It has whipped up old disputes in the South China Sea and under the pretexts of navigation freedom and unimpeded commerce, it has tried on several occasions to instigate countries in Southeast Asia to internationalise the South China Sea disputes. Washingtons meddling has, unfortunately, imperilled the current peaceful status quo in the region. Worse, it has sowed the seeds of enmity among neighbouring countries, which have been enjoying growing bilateral relations with China in recent years. For example, the sinking of the Cheonan in March, presented the US with a ready excuse to directly interfere in Northeast Asia affairs and since July it has staged several rounds of military exercises, in collaboration with the Republic of Korea (ROK), in waters of Chinas Eastern Coast. To Washington, such sabre-rattling no doubt serves many purposes. It sends a cautionary message to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), which has been one of the very few countries in the world that openly defies US global leadership. It is also intended to intimidate China, perceived by the US as a challenge to its status as the dominant world power, and it consolidates its relationship with the ROK and reassures other allies of the USAs ability to provide timely support, if need be. Americas show of force and its interference in regional maritime disputes have posed a severe threat to the strategic equilibrium in Northeast Asia. Washington hopes to construct a new strategic balance that will better cater to its own interests in the region. When US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton elaborated on the US Asia strategy in Hawaii in October, it sent an unmistakable signal to the world that the US wants a leadership role in the region. But what has prompted the US to make such a major strategic shift? According to Wang Fan, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, the primary purpose of the USAs Asia strategy adjustment is to retain its leadership in Asia. This is its strategic bottom line. The US fears that Chinas rapid development and its active cooperation with its neighbours and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will marginalise its influence in the region. The Obama administration is also convinced that when Washington shifted its strategy to anti-terrorism after September 11, 2001, some tendencies unfavourable to the US emerged in Asia. Therefore, entangling itself ever deeper in bilateral disputes is not in the USAs national interests. Hence, it should not be a policy choice of Washington when seeking a bigger role in Asia. China Daily