March 30th, 2010 | China Daily Think tanks in China, ASEAN to deepen ties
Top think tanks in China and member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to deepen ties in matters relating to defense and security affairs in the region, with over 30 meetings covering these issues expected to be held this year.
Think tanks in China, ASEAN to deepen ties
“ASEAN plays an indispensable role in the regional security and defense mechanisms,” Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, Deputy Chief of the Foreign Affairs Office, Ministry of National Defense, said as part of his opening remarks at the China-ASEAN Defense and Security Dialogue held in Beijing on Monday.
The ASEAN is a geo-political and economic organization comprising 10 Southeast Asian countries. China views the bloc as a valuable ally.
“We welcome the ASEAN to play an even bigger and constructive role in regional security affairs and we’ll help to further pragmatic defense cooperation with ASEAN countries, and jointly push forward regional defense and security mechanisms so as to contribute to maintaining regional peace and stability,” Guan said.
Nearly 40 defense personnel and scholars from China and the 10 ASEAN nations attended the dialogue and unanimously agreed on the need for better cooperation.
Brigadier General Junias Tobing, chief of the Strategic Studies Center of the Indonesian Armed Forces, said the effectiveness of a security mechanism in the Asia-Pacific region was largely determined by who was involved.
“One key point is how to get the great power China to participate,” he said, adding that this region lacked enthusiasm for collective security mechanisms, as it was feared that such a mechanism would intrude on state sovereignty.
Senior Colonel Zhao Bao, head of the Multilateral Cooperation Section in the Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense, interpreted Tobing’s call for greater Chinese role in regional security matters as a recognition of its position and positive role in the region.
“Such a recognition will make China’s future participation and cooperation with ASEAN countries much easier,” said Zhao.
According to Zhao, over 30 defense meetings will be held this year, including the ASEAN Plus 3 Non-Traditional Security Forum in October and meetings on marine safety, Internet security and nuclear non-proliferation.
A key factor affecting regional security was the conflict of interest by major powers, said Han Feng, deputy director of the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
US President Barack Obama’s Asia-Pacific tour, which was originally scheduled this month but postponed by the domestic healthcare debate and troop rally in Afghanistan, was to balance China’s rising influence in this area, analysts had said earlier.
Senior Colonel Zhao said the US aims to maintain its influence in the Asia-Pacific region, but China has no intention to break the status quo.
“The idea that big countries should compete for a top spot is too old. We should all consider carefully how to assume responsibilities for the development of the region,” said Zhao.
By Cheng Guangjin