ASEAN will shun the US’ geopolitical game against China

By Li Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/8 20:28:40

The US is expanding its resistance to Huawei's 5G network to Southeast Asia, but the effect is obviously limited. The US acknowledged that many Southeast Asian countries "are not heeding the warning about possible security risks" in allowing China's Huawei Technologies to build 5G networks, according to the Voice of America on Friday. In Southeast Asia, "even US allies are racing ahead to partner with Huawei and launch 5G networks in the coming years," the report said.

The US is using its so-called warning of Huawei's security risks to threaten Southeast Asia. It is easy to think of the alliance that the US established in Southeast Asia after World War II. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is actually a product of the Cold War. From the mid-1960s, ASEAN members had been involved in the US' Cold War strategy and forged close military ties with the US. 

Washington has been trying to carry such a relationship with ASEAN into the 21st century. At least US decision-makers still follow this logic to treat ASEAN as its followers. 

Yes, some ASEAN members believe they still need the military presence of the US to balance China. However, there is no urgent need to follow the US to confront China. This is because what the ASEAN wants the most is joint development. China can provide more energy and such news appears in China and ASEAN media almost every day. 

Washington does not seem to be aware that its approach will eventually make it more and more marginalized. ASEAN has experienced profound changes and its cooperation with major economies such as China, Japan and South Korea is changing the political and economic structure of Asia. Economic and trade relations between China and ASEAN are becoming inseparable, and the free trade agreement between the two is also being upgraded. 

The two sides have also build cooperation mechanisms in financial cooperation, counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, health and epidemic prevention, as well as many other areas. China and ASEAN are both promoting negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. All these mechanisms will eventually help the two sides enhance bilateral exchanges and gradually form a new order in the region. In this process, ASEAN's dependence on the US will be inevitably weakened, especially its military dependence. In our world today, no country wants to help the US start a war against China and benefit from it. 

As many Southeast Asian countries are cooperating with Huawei and ignoring Washington's opposition, it provides China a good opportunity to promote its all-round relations with ASEAN. 

The US, however, is isolating itself. As China and ASEAN make an effort toward further cooperation, the new order in Southeast Asia will emerge, and the US needs to understand that there will be no way out playing a geopolitical game against China in the 21st century. The best way is for the US to adjust its strategic stance and participate more actively in the development of the region. The US should understand it is a member of the cooperation community rather than a boss who gives orders.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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