, pub-5806618978131291, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Can China's multilateral diplomatic offensive strengthen relations with ASEAN? - Mediumpublisher

Can China’s multilateral diplomatic offensive strengthen relations with ASEAN?

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By nwzdt

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia this week, hoping to strengthen strategic communication with Southeast Asia. According to expert analysis, Wang Yi’s trip may be aimed at weakening the security relationship between Singapore and the United States, and also to further strengthen economic and trade cooperation with Malaysia. Whether high-tech Chinese companies can enter the country in a large scale is the focus of observation. In addition, although Wang Yi’s visit to Cambodia will deepen China-Cambodia relations, it may also lead to a downward revision of relations between the West and Phnom Penh.

Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, started his first overseas trip this week after returning to serve as China’s foreign minister, visiting Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia in Southeast Asia.

According to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after Wang Yi arrived in Singapore on the evening of August 9, he met with Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on the 10th and met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the 11th. ) with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.

Hong Kong 01 reported that Wang Yi said that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Lee Hsien Loong announced in March this year that they would upgrade China-Singapore relations to an all-round high-quality forward-looking partnership, “opening up new prospects for high-level mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides. The relationship will continue to be at the forefront of China’s relations with neighboring countries under the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries.”

Lee Hsien Loong said that Star Country spoke highly of China’s “determination and efforts to advance the modernization process, and will jointly promote the continuous advancement of Singapore-China cooperation… and jointly maintain regional peace, stability and development”.

Singapore is the first stop of Wang Yi’s visit to the three countries in Southeast Asia. He will visit Malaysia on the 11th and end his trip in Cambodia

Is Wang Yi’s first visit to Singapore intended to weaken defense cooperation between the US and the US?

The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated earlier that Southeast Asian countries are important partners in China’s joint construction of the “Belt and Road”. , “Strengthen strategic communication” with the three Southeast Asian countries.

However, the recent disputes between China and Southeast Asia in the South China Sea have not been peaceful. On August 6, the Philippines accused the Chinese Coast Guard of launching blisters on its ships in the waters near the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea (called Ayunjin Shoal by the Philippines and Ren’ai Reef by China), but China responded that the Second Thomas Shoal was In its territory, the China Coast Guard “operated on the spot professionally, restrainedly, and beyond reproach.”

Zhuang Jiaying, an associate professor of the Department of Political Science at the National University of Singapore, analyzed that the recent maritime conflicts between China and the Philippines must have impacted the relationship between China and ASEAN to a certain extent. Countries with better relations with themselves will increase political mutual trust with ASEAN.

Zhuang Jiaying replied to the Voice of America in writing: “As a small country, Singapore supports the integrity of international law. The Philippine government recently exposed the brutal behavior of the Chinese Coast Guard in interfering with the Philippine supply operation, which made international public opinion criticize China. Wang Yi’s visit , It cannot be ruled out that it is to settle doubts about China in Southeast Asia.”

In addition, Zhuang Jiaying also said that although China has not observed any open and direct demands on Singapore, but Wang Yi’s visit to another project in Singapore this time “maybe to weaken the security relationship between Singapore and the United States.”

Prior to this, Australia’s Lowy Institute (Lowy Institute) released a report in April this year, pointing out that the US Indo-Pacific Command has increased the number of personnel in Singapore by 12% between 2018 and 2021, and during this period , the number of weapons and equipment purchased by Star Country from the United States ranks first in Southeast Asia.

During the meeting between Wang Yi and Lee Hsien Loong, he criticized the United States as a unipolar hegemony, “coercing other countries to engage in unilateral protectionism against China”, causing the United States to “become the biggest destabilizing factor in the world today.”

Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian “Future Forum” (Future Forum) think tank, pointed out that from Wang Yi’s choice of visiting Singapore and Malaysia this time, it can be seen that while Beijing is paying attention to the situation in the South China Sea, it is also eager to strengthen Military presence and cooperation in ASEAN, due to concerns over “the bottleneck and access to resources in the Strait of Malacca, which is jointly administered by Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, will continue to be a major concern for China.”

Malaysia hopes to introduce high-tech Chinese companies to shelve South China Sea dispute

After Wang Yi concluded his visit to Singapore on the 11th, he met with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Penang on the same day. Hong Kong now news pointed out that Wang Yi and Anwar discussed issues such as trade and investment, and the two sides also agreed to plan to discuss the need to strengthen cooperation in research and education.

In this regard, Oh Ei Sun, consultant of the Malaysian Pacific Research Center, said that China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner for many years, and China’s “Belt and Road” project in Malaysia is also in full swing. The visit to Malaysia will undoubtedly make the bilateral economic and trade cooperation more intense than before, and Malaysia also hopes that when Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Anwar in April this year, the investment in the country will reach about 170 billion ringgits (about 37 billion U.S. dollars) The commitment can be implemented as soon as possible after Wang Yi’s trip to Malaysia.

However, Hu Yishan also said that in addition to looking forward to Chinese investment, what Malaysia is looking forward to more is that Chinese high-tech enterprises can enter the country heavily to promote industrial transformation.

Hu Yishan told the Voice of America: “When Anwar visited China a few months ago, the economic and trade groups of the two sides signed tens of billions of ringgit projects, so how to implement these projects, I think it will be theirs. The key point of a discussion. The key now is whether the Chinese side is conscious of strengthening various investments in Malaysia under the framework of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. Of course, from the perspective of the Malaysian side, we hope to have some comparisons With high-tech cooperation, some relatively high-value-added industries can land in Malaysia, not just, for example, selling some of Malaysia’s agricultural products to China.”

However, like China and the Philippines, the maritime conflict between China and Malaysia is also a hidden worry for the cooperation between the two countries. In April this year, Beijing expressed concern that Malaysia’s energy plans in the South China Sea overlapped with China’s sovereign waters, but Kuala Lumpur subsequently responded that it would be committed to protecting Malaysia’s sovereignty and rights in the South China Sea.

Although the recent maritime disputes between China and Malaysia have resumed, Hu Yishan believes that while Wang Yi is visiting, Malaysia will still adopt a consistent “low-key and confrontational” attitude to deal with conflicts in the South China Sea, so as to avoid impacting the increasingly close economic and trade relations between the two sides by angering Beijing. contacts.

Hu Yishan said: “Malaysia, of course, we will also hope to be more active in defending the area where sovereignty is located, but you will find that (China and Malaysia) between the two countries, when they have some disputes in the South China Sea (South China Sea) It is different from, for example, China and the Philippines, China and Vietnam, when dealing with the South China Sea issue, the two sides seem to be in a relatively tense state. On the one hand, they will handle it in a relatively low-key manner. On the other hand, they still have to consider, The two countries have this very vigorous economic and trade cooperation.”

Wang Yi’s visit will deepen China-Cambodia relations but may deepen Western suspicion

In addition to visiting Singapore and Malaysia, Wang Yi will also go to Cambodia during his trip to Southeast Asia to “promote the construction of a China-Cambodia community with a shared future” with this ASEAN’s most staunch supporter of China. Manet ) to discuss bilateral and multilateral cooperation priorities.

Before the visit of the Chinese foreign minister to Cambodia, Hong Mane was appointed by the King of Cambodia as the new leader of the country on Monday (August 7th). Hun Sen, who had earlier announced he would step down this month.

In this regard, Uvira of the Cambodia Future Forum said that Wang Yixuan’s visit to Cambodia when Hun Mane was about to take office was “timely”, which showed that Beijing regards China-Cambodia relations as a priority in ASEAN diplomacy, and Phnom Penh also Because of the visit of the Chinese foreign minister, the legitimacy of Hong Ma Nei’s ruling was ensured.

Uvira told VOA: “Given that we now have a new government and a new prime minister, I think it’s significant. A visit from such a senior official from China at a time when Hun Mane will be prime minister of Cambodia Cambodia, once again shows that China will continue under the new leadership of Cambodia to ensure that exchanges between the two countries maintain a strong momentum.”

However, before Wang Yi left for Phnom Penh, rumors of a new secret Chinese military base in the Cambodian coastal city of Sihanoukville were rampant. The United States worries that this move will complicate its military response.

Although Uvira does not believe that this near-completed naval base will be exclusively used by China, he speculates that China is likely to try to deepen military exchanges with the latter while Wang Yi is visiting Cambodia. Once again arousing suspicion, it may lead to the revision of relations between the West and even ASEAN and Cambodia after Wang Yi’s visit.

“If Western countries and our neighbors continue to have undue suspicion of Cambodia’s foreign policy, especially in relation to Cambodia’s relationship with China, and any accusations of potential Chinese military bases, then Cambodia’s diplomatic Policies will be constrained and may also lead to lower levels of trust among ASEAN members, Cambodia’s partners and neighbors, further pushing Cambodia towards China.”