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What has US 'return' to Asia Pacific brought to SE Asia?

(People's Daily Online)

08:09, December 07, 2012

What US refocuses on Asia-Pacific?

"Returning to Asia-Pacific" is a significant adjustment of U.S. diplomatic strategy made in recent years and has triggered a complex reaction among Southeast Asian countries.

Chheang Vannarith, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said that the United States plans to comprehensively re-engage in the Asia-Pacific region strategically, economically, and culturally. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) does not hope that its “return” will bring new conflicts and tensions to the region. ASEAN countries generally welcome U.S. presence and positive engagement in Asia, and hope to strengthen economic relations with the United States.

Larry Strange, executive director of the Cambodia Development Resource Institute, said that ASEAN countries hope to maintain strong relations with both China and the United States, but ASEAN’s economic development in future largely depends on its relations with China. It should be noted that the United States, which is “returning” to the Asia-Pacific region, should not show special support for certain countries.

A political scientist at Thammasat University said that due to military spending cuts, the United States will have to take advantage of military alliances to maintain its leading status in the Asia-Pacific region. ASEAN countries should seriously consider China’s reactions to their alliances with the United States.

Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said that if the United States wants to successfully “return” to Asia, the fastest-growing region in the world economy, the most important thing is to properly handle its relations with China.

However, there are still some problems with the relations among certain Asian organizations or countries, so the United States still has a chance to implement its “rebalancing” strategy.

Asian countries should accelerate improving their internal relations, and make full use of such platforms as the ASEAN and ASEAN plus Three (China, Japan, and South Korea) to solve certain problems, when the United States intends to “return” to Asia Pacific.

Read the Chinese version: 美国“重返亚太”给东南亚带来了什么?, source: People's Daily

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