Military alliances no longer relevant: diplomat
( Source: Xinhua ) 2013-December-4 07:49
BEIJING, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Military alliances in Asia are no longer relevant and if the region's economic integration reaches the same level as the European Union there will be no need for them to exist, a senior Chinese diplomat said Tuesday.
"In Asia, military alliances are still an objective existence. Some external powers and regional members show their support," Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said on the sidelines of a security conference in Beijing.
"But for China, it is already an outdated concept in international relations, and does not fit with the new type of state-to-state relations," Liu said.
Washington has increased military exercises with allies and is gradually moving its most advanced ships, weaponry and aircraft to Asia as part of a long-term strategy, sparking speculation, skepticism about the U.S. rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region include Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Australia. The latter is seen as "a critical pillar."
"Military alliances are a negative security assurance," said Tan Hassan, chairman of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Malaysia. Real security should include as many parties as possible.
Liu acknowledged there was a lack of inclusive security supported by all countries in Asia. A realistic way is to establish sub-regional security mechanisms first and gradually cover the whole region. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional forum should be better used to enhance trust and defuse skepticism, he said.
Liu said China has proposed a new model of relations between major countries and equal, win-win relations between Asian nations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed to establish a new type of major-country relationship during their June meeting in Sunnylands, California, featuring no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win principles.
Major-country relationship, represented by China-U.S. relations, is one of the themes of the semi-official conference of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP).
Michael Schiffer, senior advisor and councilor of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said major powers should abandon the zero-sum mindset, ensuring they will not damage regional interests with unilateral moves. He suggested the United States and China make full use of the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) to increase communication.
"The U.S. has a huge stake and countries will benefit from a rising China...engage, talk with China is fundamentally important," said John Quinn, assistant secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia.
Apart from China-U.S. relations, there exist other major diplomatic relations in the region, such as China-Japan, China-India and Japan-ROK ties. The East Asia Summit is a key institution to bring powers around the table, enhancing political relations, as well as economic and financial integration, Quinn said.
The "overlapping" of institutions in Asia is "natural" and such convergence will not take place in the foreseeable future, analysts said.
CSCAP, founded in 1994, provides an informal mechanism for scholars and officials to discuss political and security issues and challenges facing the region.