As an important platform for promoting solidarity and cooperation among countries in East Asia, the East Asian cooperation mechanism is supposed to focus on development and pragmatic cooperation. Unfortunately, certain countries outside the region always attempt to seek geopolitical interests through this platform.
At the recently-concluded foreign ministers’ meetings on East Asia cooperation, the U.S. frequently stirred up enmity and caused discord on the South China Sea issue, and attacked and defamed China regarding China’s internal affairs.
Clichés of the U.S. haven’t been echoed by ASEAN countries, but instead made more people see clearly how the country has gone against the trend of global cooperation and its hegemonic mindset, arrogance and impertinence have fallen long behind the times.
Recently, the U.S. has arranged intensive activities concerning the ASEAN region, and claimed that these well-designed activities are aimed at showing greater attention of the current U.S. administration to the ASEAN.
However, judging from the country’s frequently hyping up the so-called “China threat” and wantonly attacking and smearing China, the “attention” to the ASEAN claimed by the U.S. has nothing to do with cooperation and development, but is merely a disguise. The true purpose of the “attention” is to incite division in the region and use ASEAN countries as a “chess piece” to serve the strategic goal of suppressing China, which ASEAN countries have been well aware of.
It was not until after Washington positioned China as its major foreign policy challenge that Southeast Asian countries with more than 600 million people got attention from the U.S., pointed out a recent article published in Singaporean newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.
Attempt of the U.S. to stock bloc confrontation among countries in East Asia shows the country’s disregard of the current situation and general trend of cooperation among countries in the region.
Over the past decades, China-ASEAN relations have been constantly deepened and enjoyed all-round development, become a fine example of the most successful and vibrant bilateral relations in the Asia-Pacific, and served as an important pillar for peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
The fruitful cooperation between the two sides after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an example of international cooperation on fighting the pandemic and promoting economic recovery.
China has by far provided over 190 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for ASEAN countries. Trade volume between China and the ASEAN during the first half of this year surpassed $410 billion, up 38.2 percent year on year. ASEAN has remained China’s largest trading partner, and the accumulated two-way investment between the two sides has exceeded $310 billion.
The entry into force and implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement has brought more powerful driving force to the economic and trade cooperation between the two sides.
Secretary-general of the ASEAN Lim Jock Hoi pointed out that the ASEAN-China strategic partnership has become one of the most substantive and dynamic partnerships in the region.
It serves the common interests of all countries in the region to accommodate the aspirations and interests of all parties, promote common security, and achieve lasting peace and stability in the region.
What the U.S. has done poses a risk of the return of geopolitics to the region, and therefore naturally won’t win the support of ASEAN countries.
“Many U.S. friends and allies wish to preserve their extensive ties with both powers (China and the U.S.),” stressed Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently.
The U.S., however, turns a blind eye to such desire and still thinks it is able to create a ring of encirclement against China in the region. Such wishful thinking has revealed the arrogance and bigotry of the U.S. and proven that the Cold War mentality the country has stuck to is outdated.
At the recent foreign ministers’ meetings on East Asia cooperation, foreign ministers of many countries in the region have echoed and supported China’s position, which has fully demonstrated that as time goes by, the region no longer has “lecturers” or needs “saviors”, and that countries are well aware that they should grasp their future in their own hands and jointly create the prospect of the region.
After its attempt to suppress and contain China was rebuffed constantly, the U.S. should have known that it needs to alter its fundamental strategy toward China and abandon the wrong mentality of viewing China as an imaginary enemy.
Countries in the region have formed close cooperative ties with China, and therefore the U.S. must take into consideration the interests of its partners when making foreign policies, and couldn’t just impose its own desires on them, said former U.S. Ambassador to China Stapleton Roy.
The diplomatic agenda of the U.S. has been totally plunged into the mire of suppressing and containing China, which has not only impacted on regional and international landscape, but caused tremendous damage to the interests of the U.S. itself.
At present, the U.S. is faced with deteriorating COVID-19 situation at home, with the daily tally of new COVID-19 infections exceeding 100,000 on average. The U.S. government should focus its energy on coping with the pandemic, safeguarding the health of American people, and intensifying international anti-epidemic cooperation, rather than the vain attempt to suppress China.
Joseph Nye, a professor at Harvard University, recently warned in an article that the concept of great-power rivalry provides an insufficient alert to a new type of threat the U.S. faces, and that the current U.S. strategy results in a Pentagon budget that is more than 100 times that of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although the U.S. frequently claims that it deals with China from a “position of strength”, the so-called “position of strength” can be supported by neither domestic nor global realities.
The U.S. can never change China, and will by no means obstruct or interrupt China’s course of modernization.
The world needs China and the U.S. to find through dialogue a way of peaceful co-existence and even mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation though the two countries are so different in their social systems, culture, and development stages.
The U.S. side should change its course as soon as possible, choose to meet China halfway and pursue mutual respect, fair competition, and peaceful coexistence with China.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on China’s foreign policy and international affairs.)