China Says It Will Shun Hegemony in Disputed Asian Sea; Does It Mean That? 

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Beijing pledges this week to avoid dominance in South China Sea Experts say it is too late to convince smaller Southeast Asian contenders for a strategic waterway after years of Chinese expansion.

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President Xi Jinping made the pledge on Monday at a virtual summit marking the 30th anniversary of the ASEAN-China talks. He told leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations that Beijing would refrain from “bullying” smaller countries over its competing claims over 3.5 million square kilometers of sea.

China is usually represented by Premier Li Keqiang at ASEAN events, but this time, Xi addressed Southeast Asian nations, saying “China will never seek hegemony, yet with less bullying.” country,” according to a Tuesday report by the state of Beijing. China Daily Website,

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China contends with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam for sovereignty over parts of the resource-rich sea, which stretches from Hong Kong to Borneo. The Chinese government has in some cases been landfilling small islets at sea for military use, which worries other countries.

The Chinese Navy, Coast Guard as well as its fishing fleet often oppose other contenders, who are militarily weaker than China, traversing the disputed sea route prized for fisheries and underground fossil fuel reserves.

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southeast asia response

Xi’s comments have been met with skepticism among ASEAN member states because Southeast Asian leaders have heard similar language, said Jay Batongbakal, professor of international maritime affairs at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam are members of ASEAN, which negotiates as a bloc on external trade and security matters, including South China Sea conduct.

“The rest of the region, of course, will not take it at face value,” Batongbaikal said, referring specifically to Southeast Asia. “It is China’s actions that raise these concerns, even though China has been giving that kind of assurance in the past.”

Daniel K. in Hawaii. Professor Alexander Wuwing from the Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies said China has no intention of giving up its position at sea. Xi told Former US President Barack Obama said in 2015 that China would not militarize the seas, but did anyway, Wuwing said.

Vietnam would not rely on China’s latest comments, he said, while the Philippines and Indonesia would find it suspicious. Indonesia does not compete with China over islands, but the two sides have disagreements over sea routes.

Vietnam has disputed the disputed islands with China since the 1970s, leading to deadly conflicts in 1974 and 1988. Malaysia and the Philippines have spoken over the past year.

Earlier this month, Chinese Coast Guard ships blocked Philippine re-supply boats bound for Second Thomas Shoal, a Philippine-occupied atoll, and fired water cannons.

“We deplore the recent incident at Ayungin Shoal and view other similar developments with grave concern,” Duterte said During his virtual participation in the ASEAN summit on Monday. “It doesn’t bode well for the relationship between our nations and our partnership.”

“The problem is that the message [from China] “It becomes more laughable to our neighbors with each passing year,” said Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative under the Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“You see the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, the border with India,” Poling said, referring to potential military flash points involving Beijing. “For ASEAN members who are not involved in controversies, it is still becoming increasingly difficult to believe this Chinese line.”

why did xi talk

Regional experts such as Eduardo Arral, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s School of Public Policy, say it was “logical” for ASEAN member states to take the unusual step of Xi personally addressing the serious issue of hegemony in the South China Sea. “For a rising global power.

“When you’re a small country and you’re on a border with a big country, you get nervous when that big country becomes very big, so I think for the last 30 years, in the minds of ASEAN leaders That’s the biggest question.” Aral said. China has the third strongest armed force in the world after the United States and Russia.

“so when [fellow ASEAN leaders] Having had the opportunity to meet with President Xi Jinping, he probably expects those assurances from him,” he said.

However, Wuwing of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies said Xi may have made his hegemony remarks if Southeast Asian governments are wondering whether Xi’s recent meeting with US President Joe Biden – or the AUKUS military. Technology sharing deal – could change China. Geopolitical currency in the region.

Beijing has opposed AUKUS, a security agreement between the United States, Britain and Australia to prevent China’s expansion.

Between the AUKUS rollout and last week’s China-US virtual bilateral, Wuwing speculated that the Chinese may have “felt they needed a little reassurance to their Southeast Asian neighbors.”

While China is expected to “spread its sphere of influence” across the region without risking trade through any blockage of sea routes, Arral said, Beijing may try to displace Washington’s influence, which maintains a regular naval presence and sells weapons. Area.

Diverse US Administration has announced its support for a “free and open Indo-Pacific”, which “looks at Beijing’s claims to offshore resources in much of the South China Sea.” [as] Totally illegal, as is bullying campaigns to control them.”

ASEAN members without claims to the South China Sea are Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

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