News

    ASEAN Puts Suspicions to Rest, Embraces Relations with China

    Leaders of Southeast Asian nations meeting in Laos later this month will join with China to adopt a joint declaration on a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity. The declaration highlights the dramatic transformation in the way Southeast Asians view China and its rising profile in the region.

    ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was founded in 1967 at the height of the Chinese-backed Communist insurgency in Vietnam. Concerned about China's intentions to spread socialism throughout Southeast Asia, leaders of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, joined against the threat of China's expansionism.

    Since then, China has abandoned its socialist zeal in favor of a free-market system and two decades of capitalist-style reforms have made it one of the world's fastest growing economies.

    Nations of ASEAN, now 10 members strong, have come to see China and its fast-growing economy no longer as a threat but as a potential boon for their exports and a partner in the age of globalization.

    Qi Luo is a professor of economics and Chinese politics at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He says the joint declaration on strategic partnership will be a milestone for China's relations with its Southeast neighbors.

    "This is a goal China has been pursuing in the last 10 years," said Qi Luo. "China also realizes ASEAN is a big market. China realizes [that] together with ASEAN, they can form the world's largest trade block. It seems like it could be seen as a win-win situation for both China and ASEAN."

    Chinese officials this month said trade with ASEAN nations has been rising by an average of 20 percent annually for the past decade, with trade volume expected to reach $100 billion this year.

    Expanding trade with Asian neighbors has required China's leaders to promote good relations with them. The strategy Beijing has adopted is one of using soft power - persuading others to pursue the same goals through economic incentives - such as lowering tariffs on imports - and diplomacy, rather than coercion.

    Ralph Cossa heads the Pacific Forum, a policy institute in the U.S. state of Hawaii. He says Beijing's approach has worked well with ASEAN.

    "It's certainly now much too strong and much too economically overpowering in the region to be ignored or to be isolated," said Ralph Cossa. "Therefore everyone is trying to hedge with China rather than hedge against China, and [get] part of the benefits of a rising China."

    Analysts tend to agree that Southeast Asian nations will benefit from new access to China's huge market and from Chinese investment.

    There are some cautious voices, however, suggesting, China's neighbors have reason to be apprehensive over their expanding partnership with the growing giant. Li Nan at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore says this is especially so as China steps up manufacturing of electronics and other high-value added products, traditionally a domain of nations such as Singapore and Malaysia.

    "The concern is [that] in the longer run, China is going to be manufacturing [high value added] goods, and ASEAN might be reduced to the level that provides energy supplies, agricultural produce, low value-added products," said Li Nan.

    Other concerns include that a longtime territorial dispute over South China Sea islands between a number of ASEAN members and China could flare and hurt trade.

    Critics have accused China of remaining inflexible on the issue. They say Beijing has done nothing to resolve the dispute since a joint declaration was signed in 1997 pledging non-aggression. They say the document was non-binding and served only the purpose of defusing tensions at the time.

    Southeast Asian nations have worried that China's modernization of its military - including its navy - might soon enable Beijing to enforce its claims.

    But despite such concerns, ASEAN is growing comfortable with its giant neighbor and will sign a major free trade deal and an agreement on dispute resolution when leaders and minister meet in Vientiane, Laos, for the ASEAN summit.

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.