An official with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that China has neither the appetite nor the strength to keep the US out of the Asia Pacific, and the Pacific Ocean is wide enough for both countries to coexist and cooperate, in response to a recent US policy shift in the region.
Le Yucheng, an assistant foreign minister, was quoted by the China News Service in the 2011 Forum for Review and Outlook for China's Foreign Affairs, held by China Foreign Affairs University, as saying that with the process of globalization, the interests of different countries are becoming increasingly connected and countries are becoming more interdependent on each other, so Cold War thinking is no longer applicable to foreign affairs policies.
Le said that he has noticed that the US is shifting its forces to the Asia Pacific region and is planning to deploy more power in the region.
Reuters reported Friday that the US Navy said it would station several new coastal combat ships in Singapore and perhaps in the Philippines in the coming years.
The chief of naval operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, wrote in the December issue of Proceedings, published by the US Naval Institute, that the US Navy will increasingly focus on the strategic "maritime crossroads" of the Asia Pacific region. The US may also deploy the advanced P-8A anti-submarine warfare planes and broad area maritime surveillance aerial vehicles in the Philippines or Thailand, Greenert wrote.
"China is being increasingly assertive on the high seas. So while I don't see the US as encircling China, it would be silly to say China wasn't part of it," Paul Dibb, the head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, told Reuters.
"Some are concerned about this policy shift and doubt if China and the US can peacefully coexist in the Asia Pacific, or even believe that our security situation is escalating," Le said. "Actually, the US has never left the Asia Pacific. China has neither the appetite nor the strength to keep the US out of the region. We hope the US can play a constructive role in the region, including respecting China's core interests and major concerns," he said.
Shen Dingli, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, commented that the peaceful coexistence of China and the US in the Asia Pacific region requires a precondition for the two countries to respect each other's legal interests.
The US should stop arms sales to Taiwan, and every country in the region should respect each other's legal interests under the framework of International Law, Shen told the Global Times.
The US has to revive its economy and deal with its decline in power, and its military deployment in the region is not aggressive, but defensive in nature, aimed at avoiding military conflict in the region, said Wang Fan, an expert on international security at China Foreign Affairs University.