During the past half century, U.S. policy in East Asia was guided by a simple dictum: avoid the domination of East Asia by any power other than the United States. Increasingly, however, this policy approach seems questionable in a globalizing world, a massively changed East Asia, and a much deeper U.S. economic involvement in the region. Even as East Asian leaders often tell Americans they want a continued U.S. presence for security purposes, they also fear an American effort to “contain” China that will put them between a rising regional power and the global superpower, creating dangerous tensions that ultimately would threaten the region”s golden goose—China’s powerful economic growth engine. Others, like some Japanese, would welcome a conclusion by the United States that a powerful China ultimately threatens American interests.
Chasing the Sun addresses major policy problems of East Asia—from the management of our relations with China to the North Korean nuclear problem to the growth of East Asian regionalism. The book answers how, in light of East Asia’s growing power and influence, the United States can retain influence commensurate with its interests. The transformation of the region requires us to ask whether some longstanding perspectives are still relevant, as well as what changes are needed in American policy.