A strategic “re-balancing” of U.S. interests from Europe and the Middle East toward the Pacific region, especially East Asia. For purposes of U.S. State Department policy, East Asia consists of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China (mainland, as well as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macau Special Administrative Region), East Timor, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Laos, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, North Korea, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan (Republic of China), Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
In 2012, focus was placed on the region with the Obama administration’s “Pivot to East Asia” regional strategy, whose key areas of actions are: “strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening our working relationships with emerging powers, including with China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.” A report by the Brookings Institution states that reactions to the pivot strategy were mixed, as “different Asian states responded to American rebalancing in different ways.”
There has been strong perception from China that all of these are part of the United States’ China containment policy. Proponents of this theory claim that the United States needs a weak, divided China to continue its hegemony in Asia. This is accomplished, the theory claims, by the United States establishing military, economic and diplomatic ties with countries adjacent to China’s borders.