Ukraine Crisis Sounds Alarm For Mankind, Do Not Repeat Ukraine Tragedy, China Warns Neighbors

US Troops Philippines
Activists protest against expanded US-Philippine military ties during U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s recent visit to Manila. © Getty Images / Jes Aznar

Southeast Asian countries must avoid following in the footsteps of Ukraine and beware of being used as geopolitical pawns by foreign forces that are sowing discord in the region for their own gain, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi  has warned.

“The crisis in Ukraine has sounded the alarm for mankind, and similar tragedies must not be staged in Asia,” China’s top diplomat said on Saturday in a video address at a conference hosted by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia, a think tank in Jakarta.

The Chinese FM said: “We must promote regional security through dialogue and cooperation and oppose seeking absolute security at the expense of other countries.”

Media reports said:

The “tragedy” of the war in Ukraine must not be repeated in Asia, Wang Yi said as he warned countries not to allow themselves to become pawns in a great power competition.

Wang also accused “individual external forces” of “sowing discord” among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to prevent a consensus over the South China Sea, where China’s extensive claims have fuelled tensions with a number of neighboring countries.

We “should disclose the backstage manipulator who aims at serving its own geopolitical needs that has been attempting to stir up troubles undermining the peace in the South China Sea issue for many years,” Wang said.

“This black hand hiding behind the scenes must be exposed,” he said. “China is always willing to properly resolve differences through dialogue and seek effective ways to control the maritime situation.”

“We should abandon the cold war mentality and oppose zero-sum games, keeping the region away from geopolitical calculations, and not become pawns in the great power competition.”

Wang did not name the “external forces” he accused of “manipulating” ASEAN, but Chinese analysts said his comments could be aimed at the U.S. or its allies.

In his speech, Wang appealed to shared “Asian values” and invoked the spirit of a 1955 conference in Bandung, Indonesia, where newly independent countries agreed to promote economic and cultural cooperation and reject colonialism.

“We must promote regional security through dialogue and cooperation … to appropriately address and manage risk and difference, working together to safeguard the hard-won peace in the region,” he said.

Wang, who is now China’s foreign policy chief, returned to his old job as foreign minister after the still-unexplained removal of his successor Qin Gang in July.

He urged the ASEAN members to work to conclude talks on a legally binding code of conduct (COC) for the South China Sea – a process that has dragged on for years and which missed a deadline for reaching agreement last year.

Yi predicted that foreign efforts to spur conflict in the South China Sea would not succeed. China and its neighbors must work together to safeguard the “hard-won peace” in the region by properly managing their differences, he added.

“We should abandon the Cold War mentality and oppose zero-sum games, keeping the region away from geopolitical calculations, and not become pawns in the great power competition,” said Yi.

China’s Concern, Korean Peninsula

“Wang’s remarks reflected Beijing’s concern over the potential U.S. strategic plan to create some crises similar to the ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine in the region,” said Zhou Chenming, a researcher with the Beijing-based Yuan Wang military science and technology think tank. “The US’s recent military deployments in the Korean peninsula and northeast region to beef up South Korea and Japan, the AUKUS pact to link up Australia and Britain, and other moves all tell us that Washington wants to disperse the military strength of the People’s Liberation Army in different directions in the event of a war over Taiwan.”

Taiwan, China’s Territorial Disputes

Song Zhongping, a former PLA instructor said, Taiwan is the most dangerous possible flashpoint, but North Korea and China’s territorial disputes with neighbouring countries could also trigger a crisis.

He also said Wang was warning Asean to be alert to U.S. efforts to stage a “proxy war” in the region.

China claims most of the resource rich waters, but those claims are challenged by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

“It is also unlikely that the COC will be completed by the end of this year, as there are too many intractable disagreements between China and other claimants,” said Zhang Mingliang, a Jinan University professor who specialises in South China Sea studies.

“One of the key obstacles is China insists negotiations should exclude ‘external forces’ like the U.S., but its ASEAN counterparts do not agree. The other one is how to set up penalties for a legally binding code of conduct.”

Sino-U.S. Relations

Media reports said:

Sino-U.S. relations have deteriorated in recent years amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict and rising tensions over Washington’s alleged meddling in Taiwan. The Pentagon has sought to forge closer defense ties with Southeast Asian nations, including the four countries in the region that have territorial disputes with China. The Philippines, for instance, agreed earlier this year to allow U.S. forces to use four additional bases in the country, prompting a warning from Chinese officials that Manila was binding itself to a “chariot of geopolitical strife.”

Chinese officials have repeatedly accused Washington of employing a “zero-sum mentality” as it tries to maintain hegemonic power over the world. Beijing and Washington have also repeatedly accused each other of various military provocations in the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait, and elsewhere across the region.

Do Not Bringing Wolves Into House, China Warned Philippines

An earlier media report said:

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sunday cautioned the Philippines against strengthening military cooperation with the U.S., saying it will be used to serve Washington’s geopolitical agenda to the detriment of Manila’s own security.

The latest warning from the Chinese embassy in Manila cited Philippines’ President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s decision last month to give U.S. troops access to four additional military bases in the Southeast Asian country.

Such cooperation will “pull the Philippines against China and tie the country to the chariot of geopolitical strife, seriously jeopardizing Philippine national interests and regional peace and stability,” the embassy warned.

Since Marcos took office last summer, relations with Beijing have been increasingly strained amid a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, where China claims sovereignty. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visited the philippines last November, saying the world was “grappling with assaults on the rules-based international order.”

The Chinese embassy urged the Marcos administration to avoid getting sucked into U.S. efforts to maintain global hegemony: “We should abandon the perverse path of sowing dissension and causing trouble, not to mention the evil path of drawing wolves into the house and opening the door for thieves.”

China has repeatedly accused the US and its NATO allies of behaving as if the Cold War were still going on. Washington has been “stirring up trouble” in the South China Sea, undermining efforts by China and its neighbors to maintain peace and stability in the disputed waters, the embassy said.

U.S. Bases In Philippines

Some of the Philippine bases where U.S. soldiers will be stationed are located near the disputed waters. The defense cooperation agreement also enables U.S. forces to store equipment at those bases, which could come in handy if war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait.


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