China is hosting foreign ministers from 10 Southeast Asian nations amid heightened competition between Beijing and Washington for influence in the region. Beijing has been building influence with these countries, despite frictions with some of them over rival territorial claims in South China Sea. The U.S. has expressed concerns over China’s growing presence, particularly its impact on security and Beijing’s political influence over fragile democracies.
The leaders of Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Brunei have confirmed their attendance at the April 24 meeting in Jakarta to discuss the political crisis in Myanmar. It reflects the awareness that the deepening crisis in Myanmar risks impacting the region not only in terms of the increased refugee flows and the expansion of Myanmar’s conflict economy, but also in terms of ASEAN’s credibility and standing in the eyes of its international partners.
Russia is increasing arms sales to Myanmar’s military and steadfastly standing by Myanmar’s coup leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, an alliance that will further Moscow’s foreign policy ambitions across Southeast Asia through future weapons sales, analysts said. They said they are not surprised Russia and China were backing a proposed ASEAN summit on the crisis.
Japan has expressed his hope to advance specific cooperation with Indonesia to concretise the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, amid concern over China’s activities in the regional waters. Both sides spoke highly of the importance of maintaining free and open navigation, while pledging to enhance close cooperation between Japan and ASEAN member states.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin have called for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to convene an emergency summit to discuss the turmoil in Myanmar. How much ASEAN can do to resolve the crisis remains to be seen, however.
Asean military chiefs met to discuss regional and international security challenges and made plans to boost cooperation between their armed forces. They had “profound concerns” about the situation in Myanmar. Myanmar has been embroiled in political instability since the junta seized power and detained elected government leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
China’s new model of International Relations actually isn’t all that new but is basically a revival of the world order that the UN originally envisioned since its founding but which had yet to materialize due to the Cold War and America’s subsequently failed efforts to impose its unipolar hegemony.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi articulated his country’s new model of International Relations while speaking to journalists on Sunday during the ongoing two sessions gathering in Beijing. He credited the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) for guiding China’s foreign policy and promised that it will always do everything to uphold the UN Charter’s principles of democracy, justice, equality, and multilateralism. About the last-mentioned one, Foreign Minister Wang reminded everyone that selective multilateralism is still group thinking, which slows down humanity’s irreversible march towards a community of shared future. It must be avoided, and all countries should embrace true multilateralism as envisioned by the UN instead.
China’s relations with the US must be based on the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs. In particular, the US must stop meddling in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and the South China Sea. The Chinese nation’s reunification is inevitable, Foreign Minister Wang said, while all countries including China hold firm to the principle that only patriotic forces should be allowed to run for public office such as what is presently being proposed for the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region. As for false rumors of “genocide” in Xinjiang, he encouraged the whole world to visit the region for themselves to see that its people are doing better than ever. With reference to the South China Sea, he condemned the US’ provocative “freedom of navigation” patrols.
Nevertheless, Foreign Minister Wang said that China hopes that the US will remove all obstacles for dialogue and cooperation. He reaffirmed that competition between the two is natural, but must be healthy, fair, just, and responsibly managed in pursuit of mutual enhancement. The diplomat quoted a Chinese saying about “seeking harmony without uniformity” to show his respect for systemic diversity in the world. All countries should be free to choose whichever model is best for them, whether that’s the Chinese, American, or some other one. None of them, however, should smear the others or aspire for supremacy. It’s only through these means that the whole world can truly embrace the philosophy of win-win cooperation.
About that, China’s engagement with the rest of the world is predicated on its vision of a community of shared future for mankind, which is brought closer to reality through the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and the country’s new development paradigm of dual circulation. BRI’s major projects such as its flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have forged ahead despite the pandemic, even evolving to the point of creating the complementary Digital, Green, and Health Silk Roads. All of these initiatives embody multilateralness and openness, which are in full conformity with the principles of Xi Jinping Thought that form the foundation for China’s new model of International Relations.
Foreign Minister Wang also spent considerable time discussing China’s relations with each of the world’s regions. He refuted the false claims that China is trying to divide the EU from the US and said that China and the EU aren’t systemic rivals but civilizational partners with shared interests. The diplomat also defended last year’s Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) and said that it isn’t aimed against any third party. As for Africa, Foreign Minister Wang praised China’s ties with it as a model of South-South cooperation. Additionally, he pledged more support for its economic recovery, BRI projects, and COVID-19 vaccines. With regards to West Asia, he brought up China’s proposal for a multilateral Gulf dialogue platform to ensure peace and security.
China’s comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia sets an example of strategic mutual trust and has proven its resiliency in fighting against the dual COVID-19 and political viruses, including Color Revolutions and disinformation campaigns. Foreign Minister Wang announced that they’ll further synergize BRI and the Eurasian Economic Union, and both countries will continue upholding the UN-centric world order, multilateralism, and international law and norms. Ties with India are also important, he said, since cooperation between the world’s two largest developing nations is an integral component of what he predicted will be the Asian Century. As for ASEAN and Latin American ties, these are marked by COVID-19 cooperation, improved trade, and trust.
From all of this, it can be seen that China’s new model of International Relations actually isn’t all that new but is basically a revival of the world order that the UN originally envisioned since its founding but which had yet to materialize due to the Cold War and America’s subsequently failed efforts to impose its unipolar hegemony. This crucial observation debunks the false claims that China is a so-called “revisionist power”. It’s not “revising” anything, but rather is advocating for a return to the UN-enshrined principles of the post-World War II order, albeit with gradual reforms implemented in a responsible fashion to ensure greater representation for fellow developing countries. This model of International Relations will inevitably create a community of shared future.
The United States looks to build a coalition to further punish Myanmar’s generals, but it’s not having much success convincing governments in Asia to follow suit. No countries in the region so far have indicated they would support sanctions or any other measures that would hit the military’s finances. Asean, which is based on the principle of nonintervention, was ready “to assist Myanmar in a positive, peaceful and constructive manner”.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has accused the United States of “stirring up confrontation” in the Asia Pacific, declaring as a “security risk” Washington’s plan to form an Indo-Pacific alliance, seen as a strategy to counter Beijing’s own growing assertiveness in the region. Urged the Associated of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to work together to prevent “external disruptions.”
Japan’s newly appointed Prime Minster Suga Yoshihide is considering state visits to Vietnam and Indonesia in mid-October in a bid to shore up relations with two key Southeast Asian partners. Vietnam and Indonesia are important for Japan given their important positions within ASEAN and the fraught relations that both have with China.