August 14, 2012 (TSR) – Beijing supports a more integrated Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and any deliberate attempt to smear China’s positive role in maintaining the unity of the regional bloc is doomed to failure.
In a lengthy story published Monday, (international news agency) Reuters alluded that Beijing is intentionally “keeping ASEAN splintered” as that would “suit its strategy on the South China Sea”.
Reuters, along with other Western media, is stoking mistrust and enmity between China and its close neighbours and is hoping for a break-up of the 45-year co-operative mechanism.
It fails to recognize that China, as a large country and the world’s second-biggest economy, has a major stake in safeguarding peace and stability in the region.
To see its neighbours at loggerheads with each other, undermining the political and economic power of the involved countries, would be the last thing that Beijing wants.
ASEAN in recent years has become China’s third largest trade partner, just after the European Union and the United States, and China is ASEAN’s biggest trade partner.
The two sides set up dialogue relations more than 20 years ago, and established a free trade area in 2010, the largest among all developing countries. The West cannot overlook the deep economic ties between China and ASEAN countries and the long-standing friendship built alongside business contacts.
To say China has caused a split among ASEAN countries is blatantly ignoring ASEAN’s commitment to co-operation. It also is seriously underestimating ASEAN members’ firm will to bar any foreign interference that would hamper peace and prosperity in one of the world’s most dynamic regions.
What in fact is blocking unity within ASEAN and between its allies is the meddling of some Western countries that are betting on a divided Asia. They loathe to see Asia’s incredible economic vitality while their economies are waning, as is their influence in the world.
For ASEAN members and China, the South China Sea, which lies almost at the centre of the regional map, should become a spot that ties the region together, not one that pulls it apart. Maintaining peace and stability on the South China Sea is the common responsibility of all relevant parties, and is the first step toward further development of the gas- and oil-rich area.
Despite differing national interests, cooperation remains the mainstream of regional politics. The countries surrounding the South China Sea have too much shared interest and historical friendship. Any outside attempt to take advantage of minor differences of interests between each country would prove fruitless and could only draw derision from the bloc. The West must not forget the bigger picture.