【Unity Is Strength】 Is

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 短文摘抄 点击:

  Southeast Asian countries, geographically surrounded by the big powers in the region and for a long time under the influence of their neighbors and the United States, are finding their own voice and creating a new regional order. Chinese commentators have cited the recent ASEAN meetings in Kuala Lumpur as evidence of this emergence.
  In the last week of July, foreign ministers from the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the organization’s partners across the world gathered in the Malaysian capital. They were there to discuss a wide range of issues in a series of meetings, including the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the 13th ASEAN Regional Forum. Discussions on a regional integration topped their agenda.
  In his opening speech to the ministerial meeting July 26 titled “Forging a United, Resilient and Integrated ASEAN,” Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi emphasized the need for ASEAN to be steadfast in keeping its solidarity and to remain focused on achieving its common mission of fostering greater regional integration.
  “We should look forward to receiving the report of the Eminent Persons Group and acting upon their recommendations on the establishment of an ASEAN Charter,” he said. “That will indeed be a major leap forward in our work of placing the building blocks for the ASEAN Community. I hope we can celebrate the 40th anniversary of ASEAN, next year, with that feather in our cap.”
  ASEAN foreign ministers signed a visa exemption agreement that will allow free movement of Southeast Asian tourists, a day earlier. The agreement exempts citizens from any of 10 ASEAN member countries who wish to make “tourist visits” of up to 14 days to other ASEAN member countries from needing visas.
  Zhai Kun, an expert on Southeast Asian affairs with China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, summarized the “strategic benefits” of an integrated ASEAN. He pointed out that the stereotyped impression of Southeast Asia as an arena of contention between major world powers has faded away, with a new image featuring ASEAN countries’ eagerness to coexist peacefully and cooperate with these leading countries in the region being reinforced.
  He said ASEAN’s attempts to establish free trade areas with major powers not only led to heightened mutual dependence but also exemplified a new trend of regional economic cooperation. It also obtained a security guarantee from major powers, except the United States, that they will not settle conflicts through the use of force by signing the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia with all leading nations in the Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, through maneuvering among the major powers, ASEAN has urged them to enhance their evaluation of the region’s strategic status and increase their strategic investment in the region.
  U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and ASEAN foreign ministers inked a five-year action plan aimed at boosting trade, investment and political ties in Kuala Lumpur, a move that is believed to provide evidence to ASEAN’s rise on Washington’s strategic agenda.
  Shi Yongming, an expert with the China Institute of International Relations (CIIS), told Beijing Review that as ASEAN grows in international influence, the United States can no longer interfere in its regional affairs. He believes that it has to take a realistic approach to countries in the region.
  “The United States improves its relations with ASEAN to maintain influence over the region and to check China’s expansion,” he said. “The rapid development of China-ASEAN relations in recent years has prompted other major powers to vie to develop relations with ASEAN.”
  Zhai also believes ASEAN’s success in shaping a new regional security structure is mainly attributable to China’s strategic support. China is a firm supporter of Southeast Asian integration and stands for ASEAN’s leading role in East Asian cooperation. It is his belief that with its positive stance, China has inspired other major countries to cement friendly relations with ASEAN, thus enabling ASEAN to carry out its regional cooperation strategies smoothly.
  Shi commented that ASEAN’s leading role in East Asian cooperation is most acceptable because it is conducive to achieving a balance of power in the region and promoting steady development of East Asian integration.
  Looking at global issues
  This year’s ASEAN meetings were dominated by the events in Lebanon and Israel as well as the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.
  In the “ASEAN plus three” foreign ministers’ meeting held on July 26, Chinese, Japanese and South Korean
  foreign ministers joined their ASEAN counterparts in criticizing Israel for its “apparently deliberate” air strike on a UN post in Lebanon, killing four UN observers including one Chinese citizen. They called for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East in a statement issued after the meeting.
  Regional powers had hoped to coax the six parties involved in the talks aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear issue back to informal discussions on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum. The six-party talks, involving North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, the United States and Russia, have been stalled since last November after the issuance of the first joint statement September last year.
  However, North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun refused to join the talks. Concerned nations instead held a 10-way dialogue focusing on the crisis on the Korean Peninsula on July 28.
  However, while meeting with Chinese Foreign Minster Li Zhaoxing, Paek said North Korea was willing to implement the joint statement reached in the six-party talks and reach the goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula peacefully through dialogue and negotiations.
  “Although the much expected ‘six-party talks’ did not materialize during the forum, the affirmation of the general direction is more valuable than any unsubstantial meetings,” argued the Beijing-based news wire China News Service.
  Shi of the CIIS said the ASEAN Regional Forum could hardly make any difference to the North Korean nuclear standoff. He believes the issue can only be resolved through the six-party talks.

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