World / Asia-Pacific

News Analysis: Asian security calls for mindset change

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-05-31 20:55

SINGAPORE - Some of the nations need to change their mindset on national and regional security in Asia, based on the approach revealed by the speeches of national leaders and defense chiefs at the ongoing Shangri-La Dialogue.

Finger pointing at China is no longer surprising at the regional security forum. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a speech full of innuendoes that attempt to put cosmetic make-ups on his dream of reviving the militarist glory of Japan in the past.

The United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke on "the contribution of the United States to regional stability" on Saturday. He openly blamed China for what he called unilateral actions, despite that China has said that it has had to respond to provocations from some of the countries.

The United States has in the past called for efforts to " safeguard freedom of navigation and respect for international law. " But behind the rhetoric is a unilateral approach that is in line with the United States security philosophy.

The philosophy is evident in Asia where the United States has been trying to practice its approach of ensuring the safety of its allies by maintaining its military dominance. It even adopted the strategy of stoking fires to do this, with the influence felt and visibly seen behind the tensions on the South China Sea.

"The United States strategy is to create trouble for you in your neighborhood," said Huang Jing, director of the Institute on Asia and Globolization, National University of Singapore.

However, he said that China should not allow itself to be swayed in its pursuit of peaceful development.

The freedom of navigation has never been a problem and China has all the due respect for international law and the spirit of cooperative management inherent in the body of international laws.

In particular, China has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, whereas the United States has not. Its advocacy of managing the disputes in accordance with international codes and resolving the disputes through bilateral diplomacy and dialogue is also consistent with the spirit of international law.

The basic flaw in US approach of "I have to be the strongest to be safe"is that it inevitably leads to concerns and responses from other countries, and tensions ensue.

Japan adopts a similar approach. Abe even tries to revise the post-war pacifist constitution and conjure up the militarist past in his attempt to reinvigorate Japan. This should be cause for concern. Eventually it will lead to losses for all the Asian countries.

In an era of regional integration, it calls for a change in mindset to maintain regional security. Cooperative security for all is the only way out. The existence of non-traditional security threats and traditional security threats also means that the approach to regional security should be comprehensive.

Nations beyond the region are welcome to contribute to regional security, but their contributions should be positive.

It calls for a similar change in mindset to manage the disputes on the seas. While China's claim is by no means weaker than some of its neighbors, it is naive to think that the sovereign and maritime disputes can be resolved swiftly.

The only way out is the pursuit of common grounds instead of raising voices on the differences. Sam Bateman, a senior research fellow at the Nanyang Technological University said the neighboring countries should change their mindset to "one of functional cooperation and cooperative management."

The strategies practiced by the United States and some of its allies bring risks to the region. They drive the discords among Asian nations, and all are more likely to lose than gain.

Asian countries should not allow their judgment on regional security to be swayed. China shall be confident enough to stick to its long-term pursuit of peace and stability through cooperation, including cooperative management of disputes.

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