With its thriving economy, accelerating integration and evolving challenges to the security environment, ASEAN is destined to become an increasingly important region of the world. Its population is bigger than the combined population of the U.S. and Japan, and it represents a major frontier market.
For Southeast and East Asia to have a favorable architecture, wherein all nations could aspire to common development and prosperity, it is necessary for both the U.S. and China to work closely with each other and with ASEAN.
For many years, United States military airplanes and ships have conducted close-in surveillance operations on China. Recently, with a more ostentatious move, a U.S. Navy vessel sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Zhongjian Island in China’s Xisha Archipelago in violation of Chinese sovereignty. The U.S. claimed that they will continue the practice in the future.
Hawks today see the U.S. as withdrawn, docile, and weak by choice. They see China as aggressively violating norms and threatening American leadership. Yet any action would wrongfully assume the differing Chinese expectations of honor, history, and geography.
The U.S. push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership undercut the potential for closer China-Japan ties that might have unbalanced trilateral relations. Policy moves in China or Japan will affect ties among all three countries, which must approach their relationships in a balanced manner for regional and global stability and development.
While the world’s attention has been focused on North Korea’s recent nuclear test and satellite launch, important developments regarding the nuclear issue were also taking place in South Korea. Recent developments suggest that the patience of the South Korean people and some members of the political elite is wearing thin.
ASEAN should not be divided by TPP, and two competing economic blocs should be avoided. China and the US must understand ASEAN’s hopes and fears of the two giants, and pursue trilateral cooperation with ASEAN in various fields, especially non-sensitive issues such as clean energy, illegal fishing, HADR, human and drug trafficking, and disease prevention.
Chinese initiatives like “One Belt, One Road” are intentionally open and flexible; no uniform rules or norms are set from the beginning. One of the major challenges for the EU and European countries in the cooperation with China stems from this openness or vagueness, and from doubts about rules that might be applied differently in global and regional contexts.
Despite the president’s focus on the American future, his calls to reform the political, economic and social system domestically and to build a strong network of allies and partners to address potential threats internationally could easily be thwarted by partisan politics.
At the Munich Security Conference on February 13th, Fu Ying stressed that China needs to learn to communicate more clearly to the world its intentions. China is not trying to challenge the U.S. world order, nor create a parallel order; rather, China is part of the existing international order and will continue to contribute.
The official American statement on adhering to one-China principle and hope for peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits helped mitigate suspicions in China and further testified to the US strategic plan to compete with China mainly in the economic field. This will help the two countries to sustain competitive cooperation and for China to readjust and reform its domestic policies.
Many “realist” scholars make predictions about China based on what the Soviet Union did during the Cold War, which assumes the two cases are similar in more ways than are warranted. An enormous amount of cultural capital remains untapped for its potential in collective identity construction. Success in constructing a new Asian identity will not only strengthen cooperation in the short run, but also weaken the appeal of military competition over time.
The US will not change its Janus-faced policy of engagement and containment. But the fundamentals that buoy steadily developing China-US ties will not change, because they embody the fundamental needs of the development of both countries, and the trend of world history.
China now provides half of Pakistan’s military hardware and has demonstrated willingness to transfer technology to Pakistan. As geo-political alignments are changing, the mutuality of interests is drawing China and Pakistan closer.
In face of the historic opportunity offered by a changing international order, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the idea of developing ‘major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics’ to guide Chinese diplomacy in this age of big changes.