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United States President Barack Obama visited Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia before attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' meetings in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.
Some countries are trying to politicize these meetings, which should have served as a valuable opportunity to promote the integration of East Asia and regional cooperation.
ASEAN used to be the front-line of the United States in the Cold War era. After the Asia financial crisis hampered the economical development of some countries, some ASEAN members were abandoned by the US.
China initially proposed and promoted the construction of a 10+1 organization — ASEAN plus China — free trade area and then Japan and the Republic of Korea signed free trade agreements with ASEAN. Since 2010, China has been ASEAN's largest trade partner and the bilateral trade volume increased six times in 10 years.
After ASEAN regained its vitality, more big countries want to boost their ties with it. So these meetings are very important to further deepen regional cooperation and mutual trust, which will also promote the integration of East Asia and the construction of a free trade area between China, Japan and the ROK.
But the US' return to Asia Pacific strategies is politicizing many local problems from island disputes to ocean issues.
China follows the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. But some countries unilaterally broke the principle that “differences should be shelved and joint development should be achieved” and claim sovereignty over some sea areas and islands.
China is open to bilateral talks on the so-called Code of Conduct on the South China Sea with the relevant countries. But China insists that all parties should first conclude the implementation of the declaration before initiating negotiations on the conduct code, especially in international meetings when the South China Sea issue can be easily manipulated and used as a card by big powers to interfere in regional situations. This scenario not only makes the issue more complicated and hard to solve but also goes against the trend of regional integration and stability.
China hopes the US plays a more constructive role in promoting regional stability and cooperation through its influence on ASEAN members. In a time marked by the global financial crisis, a prosperous, peaceful and integrated East Asia is in line with the interests of all parties.
Translated from 21st Century Business Herald By Li Yang