BEIJING, Dec. 4 (Xinhuanet) --The United States’ high-profile strategy of “returning” to the Asia-Pacific region has caused complex changes in the mentalities of Southeast Asians. Many Southeast Asian scholars and officials appear particularly cautious when answering questions concerning the United States’ “return” to the Asia-Pacific region, which is a hot and sensitive topic in Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asians’ cautious attitude shows their worries that Southeast Asian countries may have to follow the order of the United States, confront their main trading partner China, or choose sides between China and the United States.
Southeast Asian experts said that the interests of China and the United States are increasingly overlapped in the region. However, such overlap does not necessarily lead to conflict, and can translate into integration. The two countries may start their “close fight” in the region, or make positive attempts to build new type of relations between big countries.
The success of these historic and far-reaching attempts depends on the two countries’ positioning of themselves: What roles will they play in Southeast Asia? How will they participate in the development of the region?
Southeast Asia welcomes China and the United States, but does not welcome or need hegemony. What it wants to see is the two major economies continue to serve as growth engines. Deeper cooperation between China and the United States will benefit the region and provide stronger support for its peace and stability.
These needs of Southeast Asian countries require and deserve more attention. There is little room left for hegemony in an era of growing multi-polarity, and cooperation has become a general trend. Southeast Asian countries will be more relieved at America’s “return,” and the United States can also obtain more practical benefits from its “return” if it participates in regional affairs on an equal footing and closely cooperates with regional powers. It should not act as an arrogant leader or a hegemonic power that always points fingers at others.
The United States should treat big and small countries equally, take Southeast Asian countries as equal partners, and allow them to take the lead in handling regional affairs. If it only wants to take advantage of Southeast Asian countries to achieve its own strategic goals, these countries will become more and more worried and upset.
The Pacific is big enough for China and the United States. A major challenge facing the United States which is shifting its strategic focus back to the Asia-Pacific region is abandoning the hegemonic mentality and the outdated belief that a major power is bound to seek hegemony. It should play a constructive role in promoting regional peace, stability, and prosperity, fully respect the major interests and reasonable concerns of Asia-Pacific countries, adapt to China’s rise, and learn to coexist peacefully with China in the region. This determines the success of U.S. strategy of “returning” to the Asia-Pacific region.
(Source:People's Daily Online)