Najib’s visit reveals feeble US rebalance

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/3 23:58:39

Malaysia has agreed to buy four Chinese naval vessels that operate close to shore, after the country's Prime Minister Najib Razak met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang early this week. Malaysia usually purchased military equipment from the US and the latest move marks its first significant defense deal with China. Some have called it a "new milestone." The two sides signed 14 agreements worth 231.8 billion yuan ($34.28 billion) on Wednesday, and Najib called it a "historic achievement."

Commentaries speculating that Najib is becoming the "second Duterte" in Southeast Asia and that Malaysia is "another Asian domino falling toward Beijing" have run wild in mainstream Western media. The New York Times contended that "American efforts to contain Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea depend on a ring of allies, but the region's united front may be crumbling."

Najib said in a Chinese media outlet recently that former colonial powers should not "lecture countries they once exploited on how to conduct their own internal affairs today." The tensions between Malaysia and the US brewed by Washington's interference in Malaysia's internal affairs are similar to those between the US and the Philippines caused by the former's accusation against Duterte's human rights abuses during its anti-drug campaign.

The US' sense of superiority in politics and morality often makes it point its fingers at developing countries. In 1993, it forcefully inspected a Chinese freighter suspected by its intelligence service of carrying weapons and ended up finding nothing. It launched attacks on Iraq over its alleged ownership of weapons of mass destruction, but faced the same fate.

Chinese people don't think that Kuala Lumpur is leaning toward Beijing. China and Malaysia are developing their ties steadily. China has been Malaysia's biggest trading partner and replaced the US to become its largest investor in 2015. The two have minor territorial disputes but have managed them well. China's relations with neighboring countries ought to be like this.

Friendly ties between China and Malaysia do not exclude a third party. Defense cooperation, which displays a higher level of strategic mutual trust, should not be labeled as "a turning point for the region."

The fears of US and Western opinion reveals that the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific is eyeing unrealistic goals, which are to form an alliance system in the West Pacific that includes most countries so as to contain China. The West views China as an expansionist imperial state like Japan used to be in the past, and requires regional countries to be "loyal" to Washington.

The rebalancing strategy does not hold water. China has never thought of military expansion as Japan did. It cherishes peace and stability like all regional stakeholders. China is sincere in tackling territorial disputes through peaceful negotiations. A "nightmare" in the South China Sea is nothing but an illusion created by the US and Japan.

Washington should reflect upon itself. It is an external country and its presence in the region should contribute to peace and stability. It will not stay long if it keeps driving a wedge between regional countries.

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