Facebook Twitter 新浪微博 Instagram YouTube Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016
English>>China Politics

Sunnylands wrong place to discuss South China Sea row

(Global Times)    15:20, February 16, 2016

US President Barack Obama kicked off a two-day summit Monday with 10 Southeast Asian leaders at Sunnylands, the first-ever such meeting on US soil. The Americans are talking up this summit, with some media even calling for a "Sunnylands Principle," which exaggerates the importance of the meeting.

It is understandable that the US has felt a sense of crisis as ASEAN enhances cooperation with China and is trying to boost ties with ASEAN members. The ASEAN leaders have traveled thousands of miles to the US, a gesture showing support to Washington. Although some will leave their posts soon, the desire of both the US and these nations to expand cooperation is real.

The summit will discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the US is set to raise the South China Sea issue. At previous ASEAN summits, there were divergences over how to bring up the South China Sea issue. But since the US is the host this time, Washington may invite the leaders to talk freely about the issue.

Washington has reiterated that the summit is not targeted at China. It is perhaps not because it does not want to, but because it dares not, for it knows if it does so, many Southeast Asian leaders would not attend at all.

That ASEAN countries strike a balance between major powers is considered as its core diplomatic interest and an outcome of realpolitik. Even Vietnam, which has territorial disputes with China, has taken a cautious approach in walking a fine line between Beijing and Washington.

Among the 10 ASEAN members, only the Philippines publicly adopts a pro-US attitude, but it does not stand in complete opposition to China.

These countries may know that if they pick a side from either of China and the US, they would be controlled by it and used as leverage against the other.

We believe the summit will not make any striking geopolitical decisions. ASEAN countries have no such desire, and the US knows it is not able to do so. If the summit is to yield any results, it should work on normal cooperation between the US and ASEAN.

The TPP is considered to be partly aimed at China. But if more ASEAN countries join the TPP, it will not help the TPP isolate China, but it will only complicate the issue. China has long been ASEAN's largest trading partner. The TPP and the China-ASEAN free trade zone can be compatible.

The South China Sea disputes are between China and the relevant countries. ASEAN hopes to talk with China about regional peace, and bilateral territorial disputes should be handled by China and the party concerned.

This China-proposed dual track approach is based on pragmatism. ASEAN will not be taken in by the US if the US tries to turn the South China Sea disputes into a row between China and ASEAN.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yao Xinyu,Bianji)

Add your comment

Related reading

We Recommend

Most Viewed


Key Words