Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has cautioned Southeast Asian countries against becoming pawns of external forces and urged them to learn from the crisis in Ukraine. Speaking at a think tank conference in Jakarta, Yi emphasized the importance of promoting regional security through dialogue and cooperation, instead of seeking absolute security at the expense of other nations.
Yi specifically pointed out the South China Sea territorial disputes, highlighting the involvement of what he referred to as a “backstage manipulator,” believed to be the United States. He emphasized the need to expose this hidden hand and stated that China is willing to work with relevant countries to resolve their differences through dialogue and find effective ways to control the maritime situation.
The deterioration of Sino-US relations in recent years, particularly during the Russia-Ukraine conflict and rising tensions over Taiwan, has intensified concerns about foreign meddling in Southeast Asia. The US has sought closer defense ties with countries in the region, including those with territorial disputes with China. For example, the Philippines agreed to allow US forces to use four additional bases earlier this year, prompting Chinese officials to warn against Manila’s involvement in geopolitical strife.
Yi expressed confidence that foreign efforts to incite conflict in the South China Sea will not succeed. He stressed the importance of China and its neighbors working together to safeguard the hard-won peace in the region by effectively managing their differences.
The Chinese foreign minister also called for the abandonment of the Cold War mentality and urged countries in the region to avoid becoming pawns in the great power competition. He accused Washington of employing a zero-sum mentality to maintain its hegemonic power and reiterated the importance of keeping the region away from geopolitical calculations.
Both China and the US have traded accusations of military provocations in the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait, and other parts of the region. The ongoing tensions have heightened concerns about the potential for an escalation of conflicts, which could have profound implications for peace and stability in Southeast Asia.
In conclusion, Wang Yi’s warning to Southeast Asian countries serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining regional security and not allowing external forces to manipulate conflicts for their own gain. The crisis in Ukraine has underscored the risks associated with such manipulation, making it imperative for countries in Asia to prioritize dialogue, cooperation, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. By doing so, they can avoid the tragic outcomes witnessed in Ukraine and strive for a more secure and stable future in the region.