BEIJING, November 5 (ChinaMil) -- The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) Plus concluded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on November 4, 2015, but it failed to release a joint statement.
China's Defense Ministry expressed regret towards the result and criticized that "some country outside Southeast Asia attempted to forcefully stuff in content that does not belong to the meeting to the joint declaration." Everyone knows that “some country” here is the U.S., and the “content” here refers to the South China Sea issue in the joint statement.
"No statement is better than one that dodged mention of China's reclamation and militarization in the South China Sea," said a U.S. official. The Philippine officials also expressed similar opinions.
In fact, Chinese officials can also say: "No statement is better than one that carried with irrelevant contents proposed by the U.S. and the Philippines." Because that's clearly not the statement in the position of the ASEAN, nor one in the position of other countries attending the "10 + 8" meeting.
The joint statement is a major event of the meeting, but it is a minor detail for the bigger picture. The pattern of the South China Sea is clear. The relatively intense territorial disputes are between China, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The U.S. is making use of these contradictions and now Japan also wants to step in. But taking side with the U.S. is definitely not what the ASEAN wants. The ASEAN is more willing to remain neutral because the ASEAN wants peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The U.S. would like to work with countries such as the Philippines to escalate the South China Sea dispute. However, this does not meet the interests of the ASEAN.
Diplomacy is sometimes a struggle about words. Each time, the gains and losses will be different. Under the condition that the pattern of the South China Sea is relatively stable, unless the U.S. and its allies carry out "suicidal political explosion," they cannot set off tsunamis that only sink others.
If there is a China-U.S. military conflict in the South China Sea, the Philippines will suffer too. At that time, countries who have helped bring the U.S. to the South China Sea will regret deeply.
And that would be a great tragedy for everyone. The ASEAN has a clear understanding of this. Therefore, those who hope that the U.S. can "balance China" would also hope that this "balance" is reasonable, not possessed by the devil.
In fact, peace-loving people are everywhere, in Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines.
Now it is the era to use diplomacy to solve the South China Sea disputes. As the most powerful country in Southeast Asia, China already took the lead to advocate negotiations and consultations in resolving such disputes.
This is a clear sign of a new era. Turning the South China Sea into a global geopolitical frontier is a serious breach of regional interests and this will only benefit the U.S., Japan and other outside countries. As the U.S. strengthens the provocative actions in the South China Sea, countries within the area will see this clearly.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon visit Vietnam and Singapore. China has a solid foundation for friendly cooperation with Southeast Asian countries.
Even between China and the Philippines, bilateral relations are not all about the South China Sea issue. The acuteness of the South China Sea issue is largely caused by U.S. intervention.
Washington has not succeeded to help resolve any dispute in Southeast Asia. Instead, it brought fantasy and illusion of "strong support" to the Philippines, which turned the Philippines a reckless country.
If the South China Sea issue will mess every meeting of the ASEAN, then the mechanism of ASEAN will fall into chaos. This will divide the ASEAN and strip off its political mobility. That is why the ASEAN must prevent the generalization of the South China Sea issue and avoid being pinned down by Washington.