Why waning powers meddle in Asian affairs

By Ng Yau Man David Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/5 19:53:39

Illustration: Peter C.Espina/GT

British Prime Minister Theresa May paid a visit to Japan last week. During this trip, she openly pressured China on the threat of North Korea's nuclear development, and also took a tour around the Japanese aircraft carrier Izumo. All these facts highlight the military intentions behind her trip, raising concerns both in her home country and abroad.

According to reports by the Japanese media, the main purpose of May's visit was to discuss economic cooperation between the two countries. She also talked about national defense security and the Korean Peninsula issue. As it was her first visit to Japan since her election as prime minister in July last year, the breadth of the topics she raised about East Asia and her high-profile stance were beyond many observers' expectations.

Interfering in Asian affairs has become a way for Britain to regain its international influence after Brexit.

For example, not long after Britain's latest aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was launched, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced that British warships would be sent to the South China Sea to travel freely. Does this represent another major policy adjustment after Britain's defense policy toward the "east of Suez" changed in 1964? This is worth observing. After all, since China resumed its sovereignty over Hong Kong, an important prerequisite for the continued improvement of Sino-British relations is that no major conflicts of interest should exist between the two countries.

May's concerns over Asia reflect Britain's desire to seek a presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The sign also shows that Asia, and especially East Asia and the South China Sea, has become a fierce arena for major powers. Non-interference will lead to no say on matters on the international stage. But this kind of interference can only be aimed at curbing the rise of China.

The North Korean nuclear issue has become a risky prospect in the current international political climate, and is putting great pressure on the US. May grabbed the chance to say that Britain would call on China to put as much pressure as possible on North Korea, to not only highlight Britain's presence, but also push China to the frontline of the dispute.

In addition, the previous border standoff between China and India made the US and Japan see more opportunities in alienating China and its neighboring countries.

The US has exported a variety of advanced weapons to India, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to soon pay a visit to India.

Conflicts in East and South Asia are an inevitable hurdle China must overcome during its rise. Objective factors also require us to face these external challenges.

China's economic development has bolstered its national strength and improved its military power, but comprehensive national strength needs to be examined by big tests. China is still a developing country, and economic development cannot ultimately represent its only achievement. The power it brings will need some time to transform into other kinds of strength.

At present, China's national strength is in an upward phase and some countries will have to adapt to that. In general China's foreign relations run smoothly, but it still faces challenges from hegemonic countries rather than developing nations.

In the South China Sea for example, many external countries are causing trouble while more and more regional countries are becoming China's friends.

In such a complex international environment, "winning the majority and opposing the minority" is still an important policy tool for China's peaceful rise.

The author is a commentator based in Hong Kong. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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