US instigation ignores ASEAN’s interests

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-8-5 0:33:01

The 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and related meetings are being held in Kuala Lumpur. The US and the Philippines are attempting to make the participant countries denounce China's policy on the South China Sea and turn the issue into a core topic at the meetings, which China resolutely opposes.

China and ASEAN have already set a "dual-track" approach to solving the South China Sea issue. Claimant countries can figure out the sovereignty of disputed islands in the area, while ASEAN and China can discuss security-related issues. 

Washington and Manila hope to conflate all the issues related to the South China Sea and instigate ASEAN countries to confront China. They intend to isolate and embarrass China, rather than actually solve the problem.

The South China Sea issue is increasingly becoming a problem between China and the US as Washington is more passionate about confronting China's stance than the claimants. More important is that the US should not be too confident over its sway in the South China Sea. ASEAN is aware of the geopolitical ends behind the US meddling in the issue and will cautiously measure what they can coordinate with Washington based on their own interests.

As the theme of the foreign ministers' meeting is integration, the South China Sea issue is definitely not a focus. ASEAN is glad to see the US involvement in the issue, which lends it more weight in front of the US and China.

But it will not try to gain US attention at the cost of impaired relations with China. After all, ASEAN has gained most of its growth momentum from China in recent years.

As the Philippines and Vietnam are ASEAN member states, China cannot keep the South China Sea issue out of the meetings. But ASEAN is unlikely to act as the US wishes. It will strike a balance between China and the US. Any possible troubles that the US rebalance to Asia can trigger have already come out and China manages to withstand them.

Hawkish politicians and scholars in Washington are talking about the possibility of a showdown with China and even military means on the South China Sea issue, which indicates the US is running out of diplomatic measures in dealing with China.

The situation in the South China Sea is generally under control. Beijing, Hanoi and Manila are walking closer to solving the long-lasting problems through peaceful negotiations, which makes it painstakingly hard for Washington to find a fanatic ally at its service.

There will not be any unexpected situations in the ASEAN meetings. The region is increasingly able to handle disputes and cope with any individual country's actions. Washington will eventually find it has overestimated its capacity to manipulate ASEAN countries. It needs to be realistic and more dignified.

Posted in: Editorial

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