Southeast Asian countries must not allow themselves to be used by “external forces,” the Chinese foreign minister has said
Southeast Asian countries must avoid following in the footsteps of Ukraine and beware of being used as geopolitical pawns by foreign forces that are sowing discord in the region for their own gain, China’s top diplomat has warned.
“The crisis in Ukraine has sounded the alarm for mankind, and similar tragedies must not be staged in Asia,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday in a video address at a think tank conference hosted by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia in Jakarta. “We must promote regional security through dialogue and cooperation and oppose seeking absolute security at the expense of other countries.”
Wang warned of a “backstage manipulator” – apparently referring to the US – that is fanning the flames of controversy over South China Sea territorial disputes. “This black hand hiding behind the scenes must be exposed,” he said. “China is always willing to work with relevant countries to properly resolve differences through dialogue and seek effective ways to control the maritime situation.”
Sino-US relations have deteriorated in recent years amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict and rising tensions over Washington’s alleged meddling in Taiwan. The Pentagon has sought to forge closer defense ties with Southeast Asian nations, including the four countries in the region that have territorial disputes with China. The Philippines, for instance, agreed earlier this year to allow US forces to use four additional bases in the country, prompting a warning from Chinese officials that Manila was binding itself to a “chariot of geopolitical strife.”
Wang predicted that foreign efforts to spur conflict in the South China Sea won’t succeed. China and its neighbors must work together to safeguard the “hard-won peace” in the region by properly managing their differences, he added.
“We should abandon the Cold War mentality and oppose zero-sum games, keeping the region away from geopolitical calculations, and not become pawns in the great power competition,” Wang said.
Chinese officials have repeatedly accused Washington of employing a “zero-sum mentality” as it tries to maintain hegemonic power over the world. Beijing and Washington have also repeatedly accused each other of various military provocations in the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait, and elsewhere across the region.