US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's five-nation anti-China tour of Asia ended in Vietnam on Friday, which was seen as having little effect. Faced with Pompeo's attempts to gang up against China, Sri Lanka said it will remain neutral and will not get entangled in struggles between power blocs, while other countries, apart from India, have not made an active response to Pompeo's anti-China comments and implicit move to drive a wedge between China and them.
Pompeo's ambitious trip to Asia was doomed to fail in achieving its anti-China goal. Why? Because the purpose of the trip is unstable in nature: to persuade the countries who have long been China's solid partners to start seeing China as a threat. Years of economic cooperation and political and cultural links between China and South and Southeast Asia will only prove that friends will not become enemies just due to others' efforts to sow discord in between.
The cooperation between China and the South Asia region has long been progressing steadily, especially on the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. From the perspectives of history and recent economic data, the trade between China and South Asia has been developing and deepening across the century. In this context, they have been treating China not as an enemy but as an important partner in win-win cooperation for a long time, which is the reason why they will not accept the zero-sum game advocated by the US.
Pompeo accused China of being a "predator" in smaller countries by exploiting them with loans and development projects that would benefit the Chinese more than the intended recipients. This speaks volumes about how unreasonable the US Secretary of State is when it comes to China, while Sri Lanka's dismissive response also showed a fundamental principle of inter-state relations - respect the facts, which, for Sri Lanka, is that the country has long benefited from its cooperation with China and it is the right choice to continue to do so. China has always followed the policy of good-neighborliness and friendship and has presented itself as a responsible major country by maintaining stability and prosperity in the region.
Even Vietnam, a country that has territorial disputes with China, has also reached a consensus with China that small-scale disputes should not affect overall cooperation in South Asia region. In fact, the trade between China and Vietnam is growing and the cooperation in other aspects is also deepening. It is a rational and smart choice for the Vietnamese government to stay cool on US' tricks to use the South China Sea dispute to drive a wedge with China.
During Pompeo's visit, the countries may be dealing with him on the surface, but fundamentally their attitude is very strong - they do not want to be labeled as "anti-China" in any way nor do they want to be held hostage by the US as a pawn of its overall regional hegemony plan.
Moreover, Pompeo's anti-China trip has a strong electoral political purpose. With the US election still undecided and uncertain, their "greeting" to Pompeo might only be superficial. Everyone is well aware of the tactics used by US politicians to solicit votes before elections by hyping up the so-called China threat theory, which has long been part of its most common political farce in its presidential elections.
For Pompeo, the trip is also an evident setback for promoting US' Indo-Pacific Strategy in South Asia, and it further proves that hegemonic behaviors of the US will not be welcomed by any one. As we all know, all of its strategies that put US interests first will undoubtedly impact the stability and development of regional cooperation in South Asia.
The Trump administration's vigorous pursuit of geopolitical game and Cold War mentality go against the trend of the current times. In an era of global peaceful development, building a community with a shared future for mankind should be the major focus, which is also China's advocacy in its relations with its neighbors and the whole world.
The author is the director of the Asia-Pacific Research Institute at the China Institute of International Studies. email@example.com
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