China, Asia’s new colonizer

By Ducky Paredes
Malaya

Xi-Jinping.26CHINESE President Xi Jinping talks about a new Asian security concept; somehow, however, while his loyal Chinese media extols the new Chinese pretension as being the defender of its weaker Asian neighbors, to me in the Philippines, potential country-victim of Chinese gunboat diplomacy, the United States is still my country’s big brother who can lick that neighborhood bully.

PROC’s state-sponsored Global Times’ recent editorial points out that Asian nations including China’s terrorized victims — Philippines, Japan and Vietnam cannot look to the United States to guarantee security in the rapidly growing region.

‘The new security vision for Asia proposed by Xi means that we cannot count on countries beyond Asia to guarantee Asian security,” says Wang Yiwei, director of international affairs at Renmin University of China.

“Asian security issues need to be resolved in an Asian way. The Western world is used to forging alliances and fermenting conflicts and confrontations to gain profits, which does not conform with the situation in rapidly developing Asia.”

Xi intends to have his proposed “new regional security cooperation architecture” accepted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the 24-nation CICA Summit and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as they were all created by Asians.

“Security in Asia should be safeguarded by the wisdom of the Asian people. Leftover issues including territorial disputes, internal conflicts caused by globalization and Washington’s ‘pivot to Asia’ policy have been affecting the security landscape across Asia,” the newspaper says.

US defense allies Philippines and Japan, as well as other neighboring countries, meanwhile, welcomed the shift in the US’ foreign policy and renewed defense ties with Washington amid the emergence of China as a global power with a rapidly growing maritime military might.

China insists that the US is not a party to the disputes and the concept of territorial sovereignty of nations be outside Western definitions.

“The original order in Asia has been ravaged, which constitutes the source of China’s territorial disputes with its neighbors. This is the historical background of the new Asian security view,” the Beijing paper points out.

An all-Asian outlook, it says, aims to build a future with a deep regional integration “the community of common interests, the community of common destiny and the community of common values.”

China and the United States are meeting on outstanding strategic and security issues including the hot contest over the South China Sea.

The New York Times’ Jane Perlez says both countries are not in the mood to improve on their “complicated” diplomatic situation and have set low expectations for progress on the issues.

Observers also note that the two powers may only agree on a bilateral investment treaty.

Washington’s top policymaker for Asia, however, argues that the US has been the most supportive of China’s position in the global stage.

“No country, no major power, has done more to facilitate the emergence of a prosperous and stable China than the United States,” says Daniel Russel, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, in a recent interview with the Asahi Shimbun.

“What we ask in exchange for the ability to help shape the rules that have allowed China to grow and prosper is that China accepts the principle and rules that bind the big and strong countries, as well as the small and weak,” he added.

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Filipinos, Vietnamese and other neighbors of China as well as Americans perceive an inconsistency between the PROC’s statements and its actions in the disputed waters.

Stephen Hadley, who served as National Security Adviser under the Bush and Obama administrations, said in Beijing that while China’s leadership declares equal security for all and peace in the South China and East China Seas, nearby states hear the words as doublespeak.

“Rather than acting on the basis of a 21st century ‘new model’ of relations and ‘win-win’ outcomes, your neigbors tend to see these actions as based more on the 19th century notions of stronger states enhancing their security at the expense of their neighbors, and seeking zero-sum’ outcomes favoring the stronger state,” Hadley said in a speech at the World Peace Forum.

Hadley was referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “new model” in foreign policy that preaches common security for both major countries and smaller ones.

“But particularly in the last six months, from an American perspective, China has taken actions that seem inconsistent with this approach,” he said.

“Rather than ‘common security, equality security and respecting the security of each and every country,’ China has taken actions that its neighbors view as directly threatening their own security,” Hadley added.

An example that Hadley cites is the recent incident involving Philippine vessels that were blocked by Chinese coast guard ships from resupplying soldiers stationed in the disputed Second Thoma (Ayungin) Shoal for the first time in 15 years.

Hadley also said that the international community frowned upon China’s declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea late last year “without any prior consultation, with only 30 minutes advance notice, and accompanied by threats” against those refusing to comply.

The unilateral deployment of deep-sea oil drilling rig into waters near the disputed Paracel Islands irked Vietnam, while the Philippines also opposed China’s reclamation work in maritime zones it claims part of its territory.

“The problem is that taken altogether, these steps raise questions in the minds of Americans and your neighbors: Is China sincere about wanting to achieve a ‘new model’ of relations between states?” Hadley asked.

The former presidential adviser, however, did not step beyond diplomacy and said he understands that China has its own reasons for its actions.

He admitted that the United States is also perceived in China as hypocritical in its complaints over cyberspying and as emboldening its allies in the Pacific such as the Manila to confront Beijing.

“So where do we go from here?” Hadley asked.

He urged high-level talks, which he called “strategic conversations,” between China and the US to establish a common understanding on how they both “see the world and their respective roles in it.”

“It should focus on how the two nations can best respond to those trends to enhance the prosperity and security of their respective peoples,” Hadley says.

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The recently forged pact between the Philippines and Indonesia to settle their maritime row and the arbitration case are examples Washington cites for Beijing to peacefully end South China Sea rivalries.

Daniel Russel, top US diplomat for East Asia, says the Obama administration is pushing for China to curb its intimidating behavior in the South China and East China seas and look for ways to manage its differences with neighboring states.

“We want countries, including China, to manage or settle claims through peaceful, diplomatic means,” Russel said in a testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

“For example, the Philippines and Indonesia have just done so in connection with their EEZ boundary,” he added.

Russel attested to the relations between the US and China, two powers seen to be counterbalancing in the East Asian region.

However, Russel said that the ties are not marked by strategic rivalry but by “fair and healthy competition.”

Washington’s exchanges with Beijing also involves advising it on managing disputes as a regional leader as its neighbors are “understandably alarmed” by its “coercive efforts” in asserting its sea claims, Russel said.

The state department official also cited third-party dispute resolution processes, one of which the Philippines took.

“Where parties’ rights under treaties may be affected, some treaties provide for third-party dispute settlement, as is the case of the Law of the Sea Convention, an avenue pursued by the Philippines in an arbitration with China currently being considered by an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under that treaty,” he said.

Russel also argued that China must allow the merits of its overlapping claims with the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia to be decided on according to internationally recognized principles.

“These issues should be decided on the basis of the merits of China’s and other claimants’ legal claims and adherence to international law and norms, not the strength of their militaries and law enforcement ships or the size of their economies,” he explained.

Such actions, Russel said, have “no effect in strengthening the legitimacy of China’s claims.”

Aggressiveness that threatens neighbors also damages the emerging global power’s international standing, he said.

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While China says that an Asian solution to our problems with China is the best way to go, the PROC seems to forget that Asians react badly to the Gunboat Diplomacy that the European colonists used effectively in the 17th and 18th century. If China is truly Asian. why does it use the same tactics that the European colonists used against us to get their way with us and our Asian neighbors? The only explanation is that the PROC has no respect for us Asians and regard us the same way that those earlier colonists did.

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Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

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