Author: CHUNG Yoon Ngan
Date: 03-07-12 17:07
US 'must respect our regional interests'
By Wu Jiao , Zhang Chunyan
March 7, 2012 - 8:35am http://www.chinadailyapac.com
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi walks to the platform before a news conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday. (Sheng Jiapeng / China News Service)
The United States must respect China's interests in the Asia-Pacific region, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said as Washington tries to assert more influence in the area.
China and the US "have more converging interests in the Asia-Pacific region than anywhere else in the world", Yang said at a news conference during the national legislature's annual session.
"We hope to see and welcome a constructive role by the US in this region and at the same time we hope that the US will respect China's interests and concerns.
"We are ready to work with the US and other countries to develop an Asia-Pacific region that enjoys greater stability and development," he said.
Yang's remarks come against a backdrop of the US focusing more on Asia-Pacific affairs amid military disengagement from Iraq and Afghanistan.
US President Barack Obama unveiled a defense strategy in January which advocated a greater military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Trade issues have also come to the fore recently and the US Senate on Monday voted to uphold Washington's ability to impose duties on what it claims are subsidized goods from China. Opponents of the measure say it escalates tension between the two countries.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also pressing for a greater US diplomatic presence in the region. When taken together some analysts believe that these measures are aimed at containing China's growing regional influence.
Liu Jiangyong, vice-dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, said Yang's remarks highlighted the influence both countries have not just in the region but on the world stage.
China advocates inclusive regional economic cooperation to benefit all participants rather than the strategy of alliances, at the exclusion of others, pursued by Washington, Liu said.
"China does not want the US excluded from the region, but China also opposes one country dominating," Liu said.
China and the US also have interwoven military interests in the region, he added.
Qu Xing, head of the China Institute of International Studies, said that China often emerges in an unfavorable light during a presidential election year and greater effort should be put into establishing a more balanced relationship.
China and US also differ on some major international issues, including Syria and Iran.
While China advocates dialogue and negotiations in solving those issues, the US prefers sanctions and even military intervention.
Yang highlighted the fact that China opposes unilateral sanctions and many countries share this stance.
Yang refuted suggestions that China's stance has run into opposition from some Arab countries.
"China and Arab countries have no historical grievances. We have growing common interests and an agreed consensus on jointly maintaining peace and promoting development."
Yang added that China and Arab countries share the same objective in safeguarding the stability, development and prosperity of the Middle East though they may differ on the specifics.
"Cooperation between China and Arab countries is comprehensive and strategic, and the friendship between the two can stand the test of changing international circumstances," Yang said.
This view was echoed by Duncan Freeman, senior research fellow at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies
China's stance on the Middle East is different from the US and Western countries, he said. While China believes that the people in the Middle East should decide their own destiny, the US and some other countries think intervention may be necessary.
Although there are some differences and disagreements between China and the US, on the whole the Sino-US relationship has been moving forward rather than backward, Yang said.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the issuing of the Shanghai Communique which helped lay the groundwork for the establishment of diplomatic ties.
Bilateral relations have forged ahead despite some twists and turns in the past four decades, Yang said.
Yang also called on the US to "cautiously and properly" handle issues related to China's core interests such as those concerning Taiwan and Tibet.
Andrew Browne, China editor of The Wall Street Journal, said as China is getting more involved in world affairs and plays an increasingly important role, the annual press conference by the foreign minister makes China's foreign strategy better understood.
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