China to contribute wisdom, solution, enhance unity as its diplomacy enters ‘Asian moment’ in second half of 2022
Published: Jul 04, 2022 12:27 AM
China ASEAN Photo: VCG

China ASEAN Photo: VCG

A series of major regional or global events are scheduled to be held in Asian countries starting this month through to the end of the year, ushering in an Asian moment for their role in global governance, with the upcoming Lancang-Mekong regional meeting in Myanmar and the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Indonesia in the coming week as well as G20 Summit in Indonesia and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Thailand in November.

Experts said China will be prepared to send strong signals of confidence to its key neighbors and partners in the region to further boost economic recovery as well as safeguard unity, peace and security for Asia in a world that faces turbulence and challenges. 

China also has its own significant political event in the second half of this year, as the Communist Party of China (CPC) is to convene its 20th National Congress to draw China's development blueprint for the next stage, with analysts believing that the top Chinese leader, at the G20 Summit and the APEC meeting later this year, will also introduce China's plan and proposals for the future to contribute wisdom, solutions, hope and certainty to not only Asia but also the world. 

From July 3 to 14, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will chair the seventh Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Myanmar and attend the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Indonesia, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian announced on Friday.  

On Sunday, visiting Foreign Minister Wang and Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin agreed to speed up the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), implement well the cross-border power grids agreement, guarantee the operation of China-Myanmar oil and gas pipelines, explore the "CMEC plus" cooperation at a proper time, and elevate the level of bilateral trade and commercial cooperation.

The two officials also exchanged views on Lancang-Mekong cooperation and China-ASEAN cooperation. 

China firmly supports the ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture, and is ready to work with ASEAN to steer East Asia cooperation in the right direction, Wang said.

According to Zhao, Wang will also pay official visits to Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia and host the second Meeting of China-Indonesia High-level Dialogue Cooperation Mechanism.

In addition, Wang will chair the 14th Meeting of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation and the sixth Meeting of China-Cambodia Intergovernmental Coordination Committee in Nanning, Guangxi, the spokesperson said.

China has frequent high-level diplomatic exchanges and communications with members of ASEAN due to the traditional friendship and the close ties of win-win cooperation. In 2022, from the China-Singapore foreign ministers meeting in February, to the visit to China of the foreign ministers of four ASEAN members (Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar) in late March and April, and the latest visit by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe to Singapore and his attendance at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June, China has always attached great importance to ties with ASEAN members.  

Zhao said China and Southeast Asian countries are friendly neighbors. We are linked by mountains and rivers and share our future together. We are also important partners that share vast common interests and seek common development. At present, mankind's pursuit of peace and development is confronted with strong headwinds in the face of the combined impact of major changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century, he added. 

"In a world fraught with turbulence and changes, China and Southeast Asian nations have worked hand in hand to address the challenges, safeguarded peace and stability in our region, and cultivated this region into a most dynamic and promising hub for development," Zhao remarked on Friday.

Asian moment 

Asia, including China and ASEAN members, are facing multiple challenges that require joint efforts. Apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine crisis and the US-led Western anti-Russia sanctions have deeply interrupted the global supply chains, market and economic order. The US is trying to further its influence in the region by hyping conflicts and tensions, as Washington wants to engage in a great power competition against China for the region, and has attempted to instigate bloc-to-bloc confrontation in Asia by using its regional allies, experts said. 

So the ASEAN which prioritizes economic development is now facing serious challenges and desperately needs the certainty, confidence and protection for the members' economies. This will ensure that China-ASEAN ties are even closer because both parties share a consensus over development and multilateralism, and the region has strong confidence in China's development and clear understanding of China's national strength, analysts said. 

Chen Xiangmiao, an assistant research fellow at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said that the US will not stand any chance of interrupting the neutral and independent decision-making of ASEAN. 

Spokesperson Zhao said "Through the visit, China hopes to deepen strategic communication with the four Southeast Asian countries, work for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, strive to build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home, inject new impetus into and foster new highlights in bilateral relations, and get the China-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership off to a good start." 

Analysts said the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting is for the preparation and preliminary communication for the G20 Summit in November in Bali. The summit this year will attract high attention from around the globe as it will be the first major meeting of global leaders since the Ukraine crisis started. It is also the first major international event to invite Western leaders, the leaders of Russia and Ukraine, as well as leaders of other non-Western major economies with a neutral stance. 

Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Sunday that "A key mission of the G20 foreign ministers' meeting is to prepare for the leaders' attendance at the summit. By the end of 2022, the G20 and the APEC meeting are scheduled to be held in Asia, and ASEAN will hold its summit as well. China will also have the 20th CPC National Congress. This will definitely make the world focus its attention on Asia, so it's important for China to make the best use of the opportunity to introduce its plans and initiatives for global recovery and world peace and security."

The Chinese foreign minister will also have discussions and dialogues with ASEAN members on the issues that share the concerns of both sides. A key principle for China-ASEAN ties is to focus on economic development, another is the principle of non-interference, so on many sensitive topics including the Myanmar issue, China will not be directly involved. On global hot spot issues that share the concerns of both sides, like the South China Sea issue and the Ukraine crisis, China and ASEAN need to deal with the matters via dialogue and coordination, Chen noted. 

"So there will be at least two key signals released by China to ASEAN via the foreign minister's visit. First, China's policy toward ASEAN will keep focusing on economic cooperation to realize joint development of the region, especially in handling the impact of the pandemic; second, to reaffirm China's principle of peaceful development and that it doesn't intend to solve problems and disputes by force," Chen said, adding that the US and some of its allies are trying to spread groundless concerns and anxiety among the ASEAN members that had disputes with China on sovereignty, Chen said. 

Especially on the Ukraine crisis, both China and the ASEAN do not want to see interventions from non-regional powers to make regional problems a global crisis; whether in economic or military terms this would be harmful to the global economic recovery, said a Beijing-based expert on international relations who asked for anonymity. 

The expert noted that "China's diplomacy in the second half of this year will enter the Asian moment. Asian countries will show the world that they have their own plan and wisdom to address their own development and security issues."

Chen echoed and said that the reason why Indonesia, as the host of G20 summit this year and a key power in the region and ASEAN, has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin under heavy pressure from the West is that ASEAN and China share values in upholding multilateralism and solving conflicts and disputes via peaceful dialogue and the non-interference principle.