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US moves can push Indo-Pacific over edge of abyss, warns China

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, who is one of the top contenders to succeed Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also said, “Rather than learning the painful lessons of conflict and suffering in Europe, they seek to create a “second theatre” and bring the conflict to the Asia-Pacific.”

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: May 9, 2022 6:55:23 am
Xi Jinping, India-China, India-China ties, India-China relations, Le Yucheng, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsChinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng. (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China)

Pushing forward Chinese President Xi Jinping’s concept of a “Global Security Initiative”, an important Chinese official has said that the Indo-Pacific strategy of the United States, “if left unchecked”, would bring “horrible consequences and push the Asia-Pacific over the edge of an abyss”.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, who is one of the top contenders to succeed Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also said, “Rather than learning the painful lessons of conflict and suffering in Europe, they seek to create a “second theatre” and bring the conflict to the Asia-Pacific.”

Beijing refers to the Indo-Pacific as Asia-Pacific, and Vice Foreign Minister Le has been one of the voices presenting the Chinese government’s view on developments in the region. Le, a former Chinese ambassador to Le spoke about a “global NATO”, and responded to concerns over China’s “no-limits” partnership with Russia, in the context of the invasion of Ukraine. Responding to a question about the US wanting to control Europe while letting the Europeans bear the losses, Le said: “There is a famous line in (the American web series) House of Cards: “Politics requires sacrifice. The sacrifice of others, of course.””

Le, who spoke on May 6 on “Seeking Peace and Promoting Development: An Online Dialogue of Global Think Tanks of 20 Countries”, said: “Some people urge the US not to forget about China when contending with Russia, but to regard the Eurasian continent as a battlefield and to focus on two theatres — war in Europe and the Asia-Pacific — and win both. This is a very dangerous proposition. Rather than learning the painful lessons of conflict and suffering in Europe, they seek to create a “second theatre” and bring the conflict to the Asia-Pacific.

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The Chinese point of view

Beijing is trying to clear the air on its intent on the Indo-Pacific, Russia, and possible consequences for the region. Le is an influential official — his words carry the weight of the party and government.

“The US “Indo-Pacific strategy” indicates that the US seeks not so much to change China as to shape the strategic environment in which China operates. For quite some time, the US has kept flexing its muscle on China’s doorstep, creating exclusive groups against China and inflaming the Taiwan question to test China’s red line. If this is not an Asia-Pacific version of NATO’s eastward expansion, then what is? Such a strategy, if left unchecked, would bring horrible consequences and push the Asia-Pacific over the edge of an abyss. To these people, let me stress that China is committed to peaceful development and seeks harmony, solidarity and cooperation in the region. China has never been a provocateur or troublemaker. It makes no sense to take aim at China. And the attempt to “copy and paste” the Ukraine crisis in the Asia-Pacific is doomed to fail,” he said.

Le sought to float the idea of a “global NATO”: “Recently, some people have called for building “a global NATO”, and NATO is interfering frequently in Asia-Pacific affairs. This is cause for concern to the regional countries.”

He obliquely took aim at the Quad, the strategic security forum of the US, India, Australia, and Japan: “We cannot allow bloc-based confrontation to repeat itself in the Asia-Pacific; we cannot allow certain countries to succeed in their self-serving attempt to drag the Asia-Pacific into conflict; we cannot allow small and medium-sized countries in our region to become the tool or victim of hegemony.”

Le recalled that President Xi had proposed a Global Security Initiative (GSI) at the Boao Forum for Asia recently: “The idea is to take the new vision on security as the guiding principle, mutual respect as the fundamental requirement, indivisible security as the important principle, and building a security community as the long-term goal, in order to foster a new type of security that replaces confrontation, alliance and a zero-sum approach with dialogue, partnership and win-win results. This major Initiative carries forward the spirit of the UN Charter, offers a fundamental solution to eliminating “the peace deficit” and contributes Chinese perspectives to meeting international security challenges.”

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On the global concerns over the “no-limits” ties between China and Russia, he said: “Some people have twisted the words of the recent China-Russia joint statement and misinterpreted “friendship has no limits and cooperation has no forbidden areas” to mean that China had “prior knowledge” of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine and even “endorsed” it. They have therefore concluded that China must be held accountable for the conflict. This is absurd. China is not involved in the conflict, still less the one who created it. So how could China be responsible? The relationship between China and Russia is based on the principles of non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of third parties, and it is not subject to the influence of any third party.

“The description of “no limits” and “no forbidden areas” captures the current state and future prospects of China-Russia ties. The truth is, China desires friendly relations with all countries and we never set any limit on cooperation, nor do we see a need to do so. On the contrary, some country likes to designate “forbidden areas” on unfounded grounds or set preconditions for relations with China,” he said.

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