During this period of time, China ushered in the “diplomatic home court”, and leaders of many countries visited China at this time, including leaders of Southeast Asian countries. Due to the recent restless actions of the Philippines, the South China Sea issue has naturally become a hot topic between China and ASEAN. Among them, after the Prime Minister of Malaysia visited China, he brought back an important message. Regarding the South China Sea issue, China has given ASEAN a letter of approval.
According to the South China Morning Post, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar recently concluded his visit to China. Unsurprisingly, as expected by the outside world, China specifically mentioned the current tense situation in the South China Sea in its exchanges with Anwar. The Chinese side made it clear that China, Malaysia and other countries involved in territorial disputes in the South China Sea should advance negotiations on the “Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.” Only in this way can peace and stability in the South China Sea be ensured. The Chinese side also stated that it is willing to further strengthen relations with Malaysia and jointly resist group confrontation in the cold war mode. In addition, the two parties also signed a series of cooperation agreements.
And Anwar’s response was also very positive. He said that Malaysia, like China, opposes group confrontation and forces other countries to choose sides. As an independent force, ASEAN will strive to play an active role in preventing continued tension and escalation of the situation around the South China Sea. Anwar also made it clear that ASEAN countries are also willing to further deepen dialogue and cooperation with China to jointly maintain regional stability. In addition, he also specifically said that they were deeply moved by China’s goodwill and sincerity towards neighboring countries.
It can be seen that on the South China Sea issue, China has sent a very clear signal to Anwar that the South China Sea issue is a problem of neighboring countries, that is, China and ASEAN’s own problem, not a problem that external forces can interfere. Therefore, ASEAN We should work with China to reach a consensus on the South China Sea issue, eliminate external influence as much as possible, and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. From Anwar’s response, we can see that Malaysia also quite agrees with China’s ideas, and at the same time shows its sincerity in wanting to solve the problem.
malaysian prime minister anwar
Not only that, but judging from the recent negotiations between China and ASEAN in Indonesia, the two sides are now more concerned about “crisis management and control” on the South China Sea issue. That is, once some unpredictable and serious situations occur in the South China Sea, all parties will actively communicate and exchange, strive to control the negative impact within a relatively small range, and prevent strategic misjudgments among all parties. To achieve this goal, China and ASEAN plan to open a “safety hotline” by next year and conduct rehearsals for contingencies.
To put it simply, the priority of China and ASEAN is to ensure that no accidents occur in the South China Sea. On the premise of ensuring peace and stability in the South China Sea, the two sides will discuss some details. Because of the current situation, there is actually some urgency.
Some time ago, the United States and the Philippines reached an agreement to redeploy the US military to the Philippines. After that, the United States and the Philippines began to further strengthen military cooperation. Recently, the United States and the Philippines have held two live-fire exercises in succession, and the scale has become larger each time. The total number of participants in the latter exercise was even close to 18,000. This scale is already very large in military exercises.
The United States and the Philippines recently held military exercises in the waters of the South China Sea and Luzon Island
Perhaps with the support of the United States, the Philippines has recently shown a very high-profile posture on the South China Sea issue. From the relatively many “touching porcelain” before, to the current initiative to provoke and create problems. Moreover, it is not only the Philippine military that is involved in creating problems, but other departments including the Philippine Ministry of Foreign Affairs are also quite active. It can be said that the pro-American forces in the Philippines have gained a clear upper hand. In the future, the Philippines may make new moves in the direction of the South China Sea.
From this point of view, the message China sent through the Prime Minister of Malaysia this time is obviously very important to ASEAN. This is because Indonesia, the rotating chairman of ASEAN this year, has issued a call for negotiations on the “South China Sea Code of Conduct” on behalf of ASEAN, and China should have given a clear response this time, that is, it has given a letter of approval. This is of great significance in the context of the United States expanding its military presence in the Philippines and intervening more vigorously in the South China Sea situation.
Because ASEAN has a total of 10 countries, and the Philippines is one of them. As long as other ASEAN countries are willing to meet China on the South China Sea issue, the Philippines will be bound by ASEAN. After all, in the “group chat” of ASEAN, the Philippines is far from the one with the most voice, and the Philippines will not want to completely fall out with ASEAN because of this issue. And if this happens, the Philippines may not dare to have close contacts with the United States in the South China Sea. Moreover, for the United States, ASEAN itself is an important force. If the United States wants to advance its so-called “Indo-Pacific strategy”, it cannot completely fall out with ASEAN.
The United States still wants to win over ASEAN
In order to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea region and allow ASEAN and us to reach a consensus on this issue, China has launched intensive diplomatic actions in multiple directions. In addition to Anwar, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is visiting China this time. Lee Hsien Loong’s visit not only confirmed the future cooperation between Singapore and China, but also talked about regional issues. Singapore believes that countries should coexist peacefully and avoid conflicts, instead of black and white and choosing sides. Although Lee Hsien Loong did not name any country, his words could not have been more clear.
In addition, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang recently had a phone call with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son. Foreign Minister Qin Gang used “comrades plus brothers” to describe the relationship between the two countries, and appreciated that Vietnam puts its relationship with China at the top of its foreign policy. At the same time, Foreign Minister Qin Gang also emphasized that China and Vietnam should continue to support each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns. Regarding the remarks of Foreign Minister Qin Gang, the Vietnamese side gave a positive statement.
Although the two sides did not directly mention the South China Sea issue in the announcement, the meaning of “core interests” and “major concerns” mentioned by Foreign Minister Qin Gang is actually quite obvious. Compared with the Philippines, although Vietnam now has occasional maritime frictions with China, it is generally within a controllable range, and Vietnam is relatively cooperative on the South China Sea issue.
Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son
In addition to communicating with ASEAN countries, China also directly communicates with ASEAN as a whole. At the end of last month, ASEAN Secretary-General Gao Jinhong also went to Beijing and had face-to-face exchanges with Foreign Minister Qin Gang. Gao Jinhong described the relationship between China and ASEAN as a good partner at that time, and expressed his willingness to work with China to promote the negotiation of the “Code of Conduct in the South China Sea”. At the same time, he also praised China’s support for ASEAN’s centrality.
It can be seen that, except for the Philippines, other countries in ASEAN and the leadership of ASEAN hold a relatively cautious attitude towards the South China Sea issue, believing that negotiations with China are the only way out. The relationship between these countries and the United States is not insignificant, but they also have a correct understanding of China. The South China Sea is the doorstep of China and ASEAN. If something goes wrong here, it will not benefit any neighboring countries. After the attitude within ASEAN has become clearer, it is time for the Philippines to consider its own options.