Nov 23, 2012

China - US derails ASEAN from the right track

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Economic integration should be the main topic for the series meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh.

Establishing the ASEAN economic community by 2015 is one of the most fundamental goals of the regional organization. But foreign powers and internal divergences are derailing the organization's efforts to move in the right direction, and regional economic integration is being implicitly politicized.

The verbose Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda mentioned the territorial issue untimely again in the meeting on Nov 19 and urged nations having disputes with China on South China Sea issues to unite and resort to international courts.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III also peddled his so-called six-point principle of the “Western Philippine Sea” to maintain regional peace and stability.

The United States stayed behind its allies and supported Japan and the Philippines when those countries played up their problems with China and tried to isolate China from other countries.

Their move has ruined the meetings, which should have been an important chance to promote regional stability and cooperation.

In a complicated international environment, East Asian countries should make joint efforts to solve the difficult problems and face up to the challenges.

The Asian financial crisis in 1997 should serve as a reminder for ASEAN members to see which countries behaved responsibly and which did not.

China is the ASEAN's largest trade partner since 2010. China has also made a number of constructive contributions to promote prosperity and cooperation in the region.

The increasingly closer ties between China and ASEAN members cannot be changed by the US' return to Asia, because both sides share so many common interests with each other as neighbors.

A rising Asia is in line with the US' interests as well. The US should play a more constructive role in the region, and not act as a troublemaker.

As for the South China Sea sovereignty disputes, China has firmly demonstrated to the world its willingness to defend its land.

Instead of acting as the US' hatchet men, it is more advisable for Japan and the Philippines to manage their domestic problems first.

Translated by Li Yang from People's Daily

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