A former Singapore diplomat told CNBC on Friday that China should consider the West’s harsh response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine in Taiwan’s own calculations.
“I hope there are major powers in our region, especially China Very integrated and strong Western response has been noted and [China] That compares favorably with Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the Senkaku Islands, “Bilahari Kausikan, a former permanent secretary at Singapore’s foreign ministry, told CNBC’s Street Sciences Asia.
China claims self-governing Taiwan as part of its territory, although the island has been under independent Chinese control since 1949.
Beijing has several regional disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea, including Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. China also claims the Senkaku Islands – also known as Diaoyu Islands on the mainland – which are under Japanese control.
The former diplomat was speaking in the context of President Joe Biden’s meeting with Southeast Asian leaders, which ended on Friday.
Southeast Asian nations are not a tool of the West, and relations with the United States serve as a counterpoint to relations with China, says a top Singaporean diplomat, as ASEAN leaders have been seen welcoming US President Joe Biden to the White House here. Summit with (Photo Drew Anger / Getty Images)
Drew Anger | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Speaking about the two-day ASEAN special summit in Washington DC, Kausikan said the meeting was “uncertain” evidence of a “return to normalcy” for US diplomacy after Trump years.
“Trump was a bit confusing because the United States has been very consistent in its engagement with Southeast Asia for decades,” said Kausikan, now chairman of the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore.
He also dropped the ASEAN advice It is a “tool of the West” in competition with China.
“We are not anyone’s tool.” He referred to the Southeast Asian bloc, which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
“We see China as a way to conduct relations with the United States and Europe; and we see Europe and the United States as a way to conduct our relations with China,” he said, noting that Southeast Asia was a major power area. Competition for centuries.
He said the ASEAN summit – where a U.S. trade framework was on the agenda – also showed that the United States was not distracted from its focus on the Indo-Pacific.
“Trade is a very sensitive issue in US domestic politics and ASEAN leaders understand this,” he said. “In our part of the world, trade is strategy.”
On U.S.-China animosity, Kausikan said it is unrealistic to expect Western “decoupling” from China, a term that points to the increasing severing of economic and trade ties between China and the West.
The United States and Europe are currently trying to re-route supply chains to reduce their dependence on Chinese production.
“I think it’s a fantasy. No one can be isolated from China, not even the United States,” he said.
Arshad Rasjid, chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia that Indonesia and other ASEAN countries do not want to side.
“We want to be friends with the United States, we want to be friends with China,” Rasjid said.
He acknowledged that the US was “absent from the workplace,” and said that the summit was a “fresh start.”
Regarding the Southeast Asian countries’ choice, Kausikan said: “I do not think any ASEAN country sees this choice as a simple, binary between the United States and China. There is no reason why we should not have good political relations. Only economic relations. No. “
Kausikan said there is a growing perception that closer ties with China would “compromise autonomy” unless there is closer ties with the United States.