News / Asia

China's Xi Warns Asian Countries on Military Alliances

Chinese President Xi Jinping gives a speech during a gala dinner ahead of the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai, May 20, 2014.
Chinese President Xi Jinping gives a speech during a gala dinner ahead of the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai, May 20, 2014.
VOA News
Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Asian countries against building what he sees as unhelpful military alliances, in what is seen as a swipe at nations that have developed closer defense ties with the United States.
 
The comments came Wednesday in Shanghai at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA), a regional grouping China hopes to use to offset U.S. influence.
 
"We should stick to the basic norms in international relations such as the respect for the independence of sovereignty and integrity of territory, mutual non-interference into internal affairs. We should respect the political systems and development methods different countries choose willingly. We should respect and look after the reasonable security concerns of every country. It is disadvantageous to the common security of the region if military alliances with third parties are strengthened,” said Xi.
 
Many of China's neighbors have boosted their military cooperation with the U.S. in response to what they see as China's increasing use of force and intimidation in its many territorial disputes.
 
In particular, Beijing's maritime spats with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea and Japan in the East China Sea have worsened in recent months.
 
During a visit to Asia last month, President Barack Obama sought to reassure allies such as Japan and the Philippines that his long-promised strategic shift towards Asia and the Pacific, widely seen as aimed at countering China's rising influence, was real.
 
The CICA grouping includes Vietnam, while the Philippines and Japan are not members but had representatives at the meeting. The group also excludes the U.S., while including nations such as Iran and Russia.
 
Anti-Chinese violence flared in Vietnam last week after Chinese state oil company CNOOC deployed an oil rig 150 miles off the coast of Vietnam in waters also claimed by Hanoi. The rig was towed there just days after Obama left the region.
               
The move was the latest in a series of confrontations between China and some of its neighbors over the potentially oil-and-gas rich South China Sea. Washington has responded with sharpened rhetoric toward Beijing, describing a pattern of “provocative” actions by China.
 
The CICA is relatively obscure in comparison to other Asian regional groupings, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but Beijing, which took over as chair of the CICA from Turkey this week, hopes to use the group and others like it to help expand Chinese influence across the region.
 
President Xi said the grouping should help create a "new regional security cooperation architecture." Although he provided few details, he said this could include a "defense consultation mechanism" and a "security response center" in case of regional emergencies.
 
Addressing China's territorial feuds, he said Beijing is "committed to seeking peaceful settlement of disputes with other countries over territorial sovereignty, and maritime rights and interests."
                         
State broadcaster China Central Television aired the arrival of various leaders for the meeting live, but, underscoring the sensitivity of China's territorial disputes, it cut away from images of Xi shaking hands with the representatives from Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Asian countries against building what he sees as unhelpful military alliances, in what is seen as a swipe at nations that have developed closer defense ties with the United States.
 
The comments came Wednesday in Shanghai at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA), a regional grouping China hopes to use to offset U.S. influence.
 
"We should stick to the basic norms in international relations such as the respect for the independence of sovereignty and integrity of territory, mutual non-interference into internal affairs. We should respect the political systems and development methods different countries choose willingly. We should respect and look after the reasonable security concerns of every country. It is disadvantageous to the common security of the region if military alliances with third parties are strengthened,” said Xi.
 
Many of China's neighbors have boosted their military cooperation with the U.S. in response to what they see as China's increasing use of force and intimidation in its many territorial disputes.
 
In particular, Beijing's maritime spats with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea and Japan in the East China Sea have worsened in recent months.
 
During a visit to Asia last month, President Barack Obama sought to reassure allies such as Japan and the Philippines that his long-promised strategic shift towards Asia and the Pacific, widely seen as aimed at countering China's rising influence, was real.
 
The CICA grouping includes Vietnam, while the Philippines and Japan are not members but had representatives at the meeting. The group also excludes the U.S., while including nations such as Iran and Russia.
 
Anti-Chinese violence flared in Vietnam last week after Chinese state oil company CNOOC deployed an oil rig 150 miles off the coast of Vietnam in waters also claimed by Hanoi. The rig was towed there just days after Obama left the region.
               
The move was the latest in a series of confrontations between China and some of its neighbors over the potentially oil-and-gas rich South China Sea. Washington has responded with sharpened rhetoric toward Beijing, describing a pattern of “provocative” actions by China.
 
The CICA is relatively obscure in comparison to other Asian regional groupings, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but Beijing, which took over as chair of the CICA from Turkey this week, hopes to use the group and others like it to help expand Chinese influence across the region.
 
President Xi said the grouping should help create a "new regional security cooperation architecture." Although he provided few details, he said this could include a "defense consultation mechanism" and a "security response center" in case of regional emergencies.
 
Addressing China's territorial feuds, he said Beijing is "committed to seeking peaceful settlement of disputes with other countries over territorial sovereignty, and maritime rights and interests."
                         
State broadcaster China Central Television aired the arrival of various leaders for the meeting live, but, underscoring the sensitivity of China's territorial disputes, it cut away from images of Xi shaking hands with the representatives from Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan.

Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters.

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