By S. M. Hali
The Twenty First Century is the century of Asia, in which a new world order that may shape the direction of world affairs will come into effect. China is destined to play a major role significantly affecting not only Asia but the world at large. The axis of world power is slowly evolving toward Asia-Pacific. Global economic activities, growing military budgets, population trends and a rising consensus within the region indicates that their time has come.
After centuries of colonialism, humiliation, imperialism, war and destruction, this diverse and vast region is beginning to regain its historic position in the first quarter of the 21st century. Japan, which had been devastated as result of the Second World War, had emerged from the ashes like a phoenix to become an industrial and economic giant, albeit with US support, owing to its status as a US protectorate. China, on the other hand, had suffered due to Japanese and British imperialism but arose on its own steam and is destined to become a world power without external support. It has already surpassed Japan’s economy and is challenging the US, forecast to overtake it in the next decade or so.
The west is wary of China’s rising economic strength and since the financial crisis; the US has been following a policy which has become increasingly aggressive in its effort to contain China. Noticeably, the US has adopted various measures in this regard, which focus on propping India as a counterbalance to China and prevailing upon South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and other countries that neighbour China for joint military exercises to ‘encircle China militarily’. According to Russian newspaper, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, of October 27, 2010, the Pentagon is spending considerable sums to fashion a front to contain China. The paper asserts that measures in this regard include ‘Creating an Anti-China Alliance’ based on contentious issues such as the unresolved territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the fixed Renimbi currency exchange rate.
Countries surrounding China, like Japan, India, Vietnam, Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan and South Korea are trying to join the anti-China group because they have a conflict of interest with China and are attempting to gain benefits by using the U.S.
China on the other hand, which believes in peace and not war, in its Asia Policy asserts to continue to follow the basic principle of building friendship and partnership with neighboring countries. In this regard, it is emphasizing on deepening mutual trust. Chinese leaders have recently visited a number of Asian countries; held broad and in-depth exchange of views with their foreign counterparts on how to further deepen mutual trust and bilateral cooperation, and have reached agreements on important issues.
China has ensured that Asian countries work together to make remarkable progress in overcoming the impact of the financial crisis on Asia. The Asian economy as a whole grew by 8.2% last year. It has become an important engine in driving world economic recovery. China boosted mutually beneficial cooperation, advanced regional integration and worked together in properly addressing regional hotspot issues.
China’s resolve to work with neighboring countries to foster a peaceful, stable, region, pursuing win-win cooperation, will go a long way in achieving this end. In the year 2011, China will continue to increase political mutual trust since this year has some major landmarks.
It marks the 60th, 50th and 20th anniversaries of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan, China and the Lao PDR, and China and Brunei respectively. This year is also the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the dialogue relationship between China and ASEAN. Moreover, this year is the year of friendly exchanges between China and ASEAN and between China and India. China will hold colorful activities and work with other Asian countries to deepen the friendship and mutual understanding between its peoples and pursue common development in Asia.
In accordance with its Asia Policy, China will vigorously promote regional integration. The China-ASEAN Free Trade Area has been fully established, marking a good beginning. China will further deepen such cooperation. At the same time, efforts will also be made to advance the practical cooperation between ASEAN and China, Japan and the ROK. China and ASEAN countries enjoy geographical proximity. The two sides have already engaged in very friendly cooperation. It is the common aspiration of the two sides to advance connectivity and network building. In this field, good progress has already been made. The future belongs to China and Asia and Pakistan as a major Chinese ally must benefit from China’s Asia Policy.