BEIJING, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- The United States has clamored to return to the Asia-Pacific region as a leader, and its high-profile debut at the upcoming East Asia Summit by President Barack Obama and his top foreign policy official Hillary Clinton may serve as an occasion to sound the clarion.
Right before the APEC summit meeting in Hawaii, Clinton declared a U.S. strategy shift to Asia in strong terms, saying in a speech at the East-West Center that "there are challenges facing the Asia-Pacific right now that demand America's leadership" and that the 21st century will be "America's Pacific century."
Is there any country in the region that wants the United States to be its leader? The answer would probably be a resounding "No." Every country in the region, therefore, has good reason to question the United States' ambition. In fact, it wouldn't come as a surprise if the United States is trying to seek hegemony in the region, which would be in line with its aspirations as a global superpower.
The 21st century has seen an increasingly globalized world with countries becoming more interdependent economically, a trend that makes it necessary for countries to cooperate and coordinate closely on an equal basis without regard to a country's size and development level.
Actually, there is enough space for the countries in the Asia-Pacific region to cooperate and coexist peacefully and develop a successful partnership in times of trouble. And nobody denies the fact that "the United States is a Pacific power," as Obama claimed in his speech to the Australian Parliament on Thursday.
The key to any successful international collaboration is that every country in the region respects other countries' legitimate interests and handles issues related to others' concerns with a view to promoting peace, mutual trust and common development.
Just as Chinese President Hu Jintao said during a meeting with Obama in Hawaii last week, China respects the legitimate interests of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region and welcomes it to play a constructive role there.
Currently, the global economic recovery remains uncertain as some major economies are either experiencing an economic slowdown or facing acute sovereign debt problems, while some emerging markets are confronted with rising inflationary pressure.
In such a complex and volatile economic environment, every country must first put its own house in order before trying to help the world as a whole.
Since the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis broke out in 2007, the tough economic problems in the United States have triggered a destructive financial tsunami that later swept the world. Years of excessive spending have added to its swollen debts, and setbacks in its major industries have pushed up unemployment.
Meanwhile, given the United States' status as the world's largest economy and the issuer of the dominant international reserve currency, it has the responsibility of helping the world deal with the current European debt crisis and prevent it from dragging the world into another economic disaster.
It's hard to envision what kind of "leadership" the United States aspires to have in the region. What the region really needs -- right now -- is a strong and reliable partner that can help the region stave off the current financial crisis and seek balanced and sustained growth.