Chinese President Xi Jinping chaired the China-ASEAN Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations in late November and addressed its members via video. He and his counterparts jointly announced the establishment of the China-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CACSP). The Chinese leader then spent the remainder of his speech describing the excellent nature of their relations and the promising prospects that their future ties hold.
There’s no doubt that CACSP is an example for the world. President Xi made it clear how their relations are undergirded by respect for the basic norms of international relations, win-win cooperation, looking out for each other, and the joint pursuit of open regionalism. This is exactly how countries should interact with one another. It’s even more impressive that this characterizes China’s relations with an entire bloc of nations, which confirms the consistency and sincerity of that country’s policies.
It’s important here to contrast China-ASEAN ties with US-ASEAN ones. Unlike China, the US doesn’t respect the basic norms of international relations. It regularly engages in maritime provocations against China and tries to mislead regional countries into following suit. That’s not win-win cooperation but zero-sum thinking. The US doesn’t look out for its partners either. It’s irresponsibly pressuring them to take its side against China. The US also has yet to reach a free trade agreement with ASEAN.
Looking forward, President Xi envisions that China and ASEAN can build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful, and amicable home together. These concepts refer to the framework for their comprehensive strategic partnership. It’s important to point out that the Chinese leader said that “We need to pursue dialogue instead of confrontation, build partnerships instead of alliances, and make concerted efforts to address the various negative factors that might threaten or undermine peace.”
This can be interpreted as a direct contrast to the American approach. The US tries to provoke some of the ASEAN countries into sparking confrontation with China in order to sabotage their pragmatic dialogue with it. The Quad between itself, Australia, India, and Japan is an emerging US-led military alliance against China that’s attempted to embed itself into ASEAN so as to ruin the bloc’s partnership with China. The only concerted US effort is its incessant attempt to divide and rule China and ASEAN.
President Xi hammered home the point by adding that “China firmly opposes hegemonism and power politics. China pursues long-term, friendly coexistence with neighboring countries, and is part of the common efforts for durable peace in the region. China will never seek hegemony, still less bully smaller countries.” This debunks the US-led Western mainstream media’s fake news campaign alleging that China is a so-called “aspiring regional hegemon” that ASEAN must ally with American against to contain.
Quite clearly, the US has failed to divide and rule China and ASEAN. The bloc’s members are pragmatic enough to understand how counterproductive it would be to region’s interests to allow themselves to be misled by a country that’s literally halfway across the world into provoking problems with their neighbor. The CACSP attests to both sides’ interest in opposing third-party meddling in their relations. This will in turn reduce the prospects of the US’ divisive plans and thus further stabilize the region.
Not only that, but it provides an example for the rest of the world to follow. Neighboring parties should always focus on comprehensively improving their relations. There’s no alternative to this in the emerging multipolar world order, especially since true multilateralism is needed in order to counter the global threats of climate change, COVID-19, and economic inequality, which are increasingly converging. There’s always more to gain by working together than working against one another.
CACSP sets the standard for international relations. Its very establishment proves that occasional differences between parties can be pragmatically overcome in pursuit of the greater good. This new partnership also shows that the US is not guaranteed to succeed in its devious plot to divide and rule various sets of countries. In fact, this development puts the US on the strategic defensive since its decision makers must now realize that their former plans have failed.
Hopefully the US will take note of CACSP and try to learn from its example. The recent video summit between Presidents Xi and US President Joe Biden could set the basis for improving their troubled partnership so long as Washington truly has the political will to do so. The Chinese leader’s vision of building a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful, and amicable home together with ASEAN could also apply to America too. All that’s needed is for the US to reciprocate his outreaches.