Topic: ASEAN Relations with China under Peaceful Development Policy Introduction In recent years Chinese government manages

a fruitful and prospering relationship with ASEAN, which Professor Ong refers as a ‘win-win partnership’. But as illustrated by The Economist in the March report on China, ‘China’s rise to superpower status generates as much as fear as admiration.’ Scholars and political leaders in the region concern how China will rise and the subsequent impacts brought to her ASEAN neighbors. As Professor Zheng from University of Nottingham had mentioned about China’s Peaceful Rise, since early 1990s there are numerous policy papers arguing about the China threat theories and suggested the need to contain and restrain the rising China. Similar views shared by Professor Yahuda in carrying out the viewpoint that China’s participation in regional political and security patterns of cooperation still remain uncertain , despite a economic cooperation between both parties. He viewed the cooperative behavior China demonstrates merely a requirement to create a peaceful environment for her own stability and economic growth, instead of a real cooperation that ‘China communist leaders come easily and naturally.’ Chinese government therefore came up with the concept of ‘peaceful rise’, which later replaced by the terms ‘peaceful development’ to share the concept in which China could emerge as a world power in a peaceful way and harm nobody. In this paper, we will discuss briefly on the concept of peaceful development and examines whether the policies and actions taken by China with her Southeast Asian neighbors in previous years fulfilled the ideology. Lastly we would review some potential challenges in the relationship between a rising China and ASEAN members. What is Peaceful Rise or Peaceful Development? We kept on hearing these terms from President Hu, Premier Wen or fellow senior officials in different occasion, sometimes in top Amercian schools, sometimes in Politburo meetings, indeed it is a phrase first introduced by Zheng Bijian, former Vice President of the Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party during the Boao Forum for Asia in 2003. He stated ‘China’s peaceful rise is part of Asia’s peaceful rise, … the modernization and reform processes and the rise of China are directly linked to the experiences and development of other Asian countries.’ And President Hu Jintao repeated to use the terms in several other occasions like official visit to France, internal meetings and commemorative function of Mao Zedong. It is a value, which represents China rise or development as an opportunity instead of a threat. Later the term modified as development as ‘rise’ evokes apprehension among Chinese neighbors and strategic competitors. And following the guiding principles established by Deng Xiaoping, “Observe developments soberly, maintain our position, meet challenges calmly, hide our capacities and bide our time, remain free of ambition and never claim leadership.”, even to later period Jiang Zemin’s “enhancing confidence, reducing troubles, expanding cooperation and avoiding confrontation”, it is obvious that China wish to implement a pragmatic foreign policy in establishing a defensive instead of assertive foreign policy with reference to her wish to develop a peaceful environment which benefits her development. Early PRC – SEA relations At the very beginning of the PRC ruling the new China, the relationship with Southeast Asian nations was not that smooth and promising, mainly because of the Chinese support to Burmese Communist Party, and the overseas Chinese viewed as an extension of Chinese influence in the region. Only since the Bandung Asian-African Conference where China made friends and influence with the regional neighbors by the agreement of ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence’, referring to mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-aggression, non-

interference in internal affairs of other countries, equality of status and mutual benefit. Mutual trust and friendship started to develop, as Professor Stuart Fox mentioned, ‘Relations with Indonesia warmed, trade expanded rapidly, ; personal relations between U Nu of Burma and Zhou Enlai blossomed and lead to negotiations on a principle issue of concern to the Burmese: demarcation of the frontier.’ , and a Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Non-Aggression was signed with Cambodia. But disputes between China and Vietnam in the Cambodia invasion and suspicion of China communism had once again brought the Southeast Asian countries further from China. Ironically, the formation of Association of Southeast Asian Nations at the very beginning was a response to the growing communist threat. Indonesia suspended diplomatic ties with China in October 1967 with the new anti-communist Suharto military force came to power. PRC once considered ASEAN as ‘a tool of American imperialists’ aiming at containing China and other communist power. With a new cold war situation developed, Soviet Union and United States influence began to grow in the Southeast Asia region, China started to reevaluate her policies with fellow ASEAN nations. China began to develop friendly diplomatic relations with several countries like Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines in mid 1970s. But not until the settlement of Cambodia arrived in early 1990s, Vietnam then once again ‘found itself looking to China’. And with the open door policy and successful economic development in late 20th century, China developed a closer relationship with ASEAN nations through trade and investment. With Singapore and Brunei establishing diplomatic relationship with Beijing in 1990, it started a new page in PRC-SEA relationship in modern times. Remarkably, China became one of the ASEAN’s dialogue partners and a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) for the discussion of security in mid 1990s. Series of Declarations and Treaties By acceding into treaties and declaration perhaps is an important and significant process to consolidate the relationship built between China and ASEAN. The Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002 guided the conduct of both parties in the area. In order to combat transnational crime like terrorism, sea piracy, human trafficking and all sorts of non-traditional security issues, ASEAN and China came with the Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Non-Traditional Security Issues. As Professor Ong stated, the milestone achievement was China accession to ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast China. In addition to the Joint Declaration on the Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity, China apparently pay high level of respect and positive response to ASEAN neighboring nations as partners and promote peace and security in the region. Besides, the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation targeted to make Free Trade Area possible in 2010 for ASEAN6, then 2015 for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV). All of these declarations and treaties came along with the active participation of both parties in engaging to the formation of a stronger political and economic partnership. Also, it would provide a solid foundation for ASEAN and China to collaborate and cooperate in regional security issues, economic advancement and solving the disputed borders problem. Good Neighborliness with ASEAN nations ASEAN and China had shared common borders and have deep historical and cultural linkages. Professor Zheng discussed this policy in depth in his discussion paper, he stated between September and October 2003, Premier Wen, State Counselor and Foreign Minister had stressed the importance of ‘friendliness and companionship to neighbours through calming, enriching and befriending.’ During the early to mid 20th century, China had still several disputes over the borders with numerous countries, while now almost all have been settled, with the exception of Spratly Islands, islands with Japan and India in Himalayas. For the Spratly Islands case, China had agreed a multilateral declaration over it by singing a declaration

on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. And acceding to the Treaty of amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia showed China and countries in ASEAN are stepping forward to some form of institutional consolidation. This approach suggested by Herman would provide a ‘fulcrum for the relationship, building confidence and eventually becoming bulwarks of an effective regional architecture.’ Besides that, China had increased trade with ASEAN countries significantly in the past few years, from US$ 25.4 billion in 1997 to 78.3 billion in 2003 and a dramatic 130.4 billion in 2005. As Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi had expressed “China and ASEAN should team up…grasp opportunities, meet challenges and withstand the fierce competition on a global basis.” And China had contributed significantly in the Asian Financial Crisis in stabilizing the region. By US$1 billion financial assistance to Thailand, US4-6 billion for the IMF programmes to support the whole Southeast Asia. And the important move in not devaluing the currency Renminbi (or yuan) had strengthened up the confidence for her neighbors in the region. It prevented another destructive devaluations of other Asian currency which could have caused greater damage to the regional economy. And the formation of China ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) in 2010 would foresee a tariff elimination of over 7000 items. These economic gestures had certainly showed China’s willingness to engage with the region and act as a responsible political, economic and trading partner. As Zheng stated China will continue to make efforts in maintaining good relations with ASEAN as a showcase to the world that China could be a trusted partner and responsible player in the global order. ASEAN also hoped China would continue this positive foreign policy in playing a strategic role in the region. As Philippines President Arroyo said in the 12th ASEAN Summit, “We (ASEAN) look to China to take the lead in promoting good neighborly relations and regional cooperation by handling sensitive issues with surrounding countries in a manner that is guided by the spirit of equality, respect, consultation and mutual benefit.” It is foreseeable for a closer relationship between China and ASEAN in coming years, not only in trade and investment, but also in political and cultural realm. Worries and Skepticism China is quite determined to regain her rightful place as a global power and being recognized, respected and deferred to as such in the world affairs. But with the recent rapid increase in military budget, unresolved political conflict with Taiwan, internal anti-Japan sentiment, disagreement over the boundaries in East China Sea and the internal economic inequalities and government corruption, China itself is facing lots of suspicious and skepticism from her surrounding nations. Argued by the Economist report on China recently, ASEAN would use America as a balancing force with China, for instance, Singapore recently signed an agreement allowing American forces greater access, Indonesia and America have resumed bilateral military contacts, so does Vietnam wants to forge a strategic alliance with the former enemy. Also, some political scientists are skeptical about the real motivation behind China’s engagement in the region, arguably China primary target is the energy resources. Recent Economist’s research on the Chinese aid to Cambodia is a typical example,’ for China, oil shipping from Cambodia has strategic value, for it would not have to pass through the American-guarded Malacca Straits.’ Same arguments was expressed by Professor Glosny in worrying the ACFTA may end up creating a colonial economic relationship as forcing ASEAN nations into less profitable sectors for China to secure access to raw materials such as oil, natural gas, rubber and tin. Future Outlook Everyone is paying attention on how a rising China could develop a peaceful relationship with her surrounding neighbors. Michael Swain and Ashley Tellis argue that China would pursue a ‘calculative strategy’ by promoting a market economy to ensure rapid economic growth, avoiding the use of force while modernizing

military capacity and expand China’s political influence around the globe. Therefore a closer economic cooperation with ASEAN is ensured, minor political differences and border disputes could be set aside to maintain the good neighbor policies. While for ASEAN, on one hand they would want China to invest more in the region and behave well in political sense, they would also want United States to remain a powerful presence as a balancing force. The real solution From political, security and economic perspective, it would be beneficial for both ASEAN and China to further cooperate and develop strategic partnership in all aspects. It would certainly bring mutual benefits and a win-win situation in coming decades with reference to the success made in previous years. In order to completely ease the situation of fear and charm offensive nature projected on China by fellow ASEAN nations, China have to demonstrate more on her openness and pluralism , no matter it is the military expense, economic policy, or even political reform. Once trust and consensus build among China and fellow ASEAN nations, then a rising China with peaceful development would be a golden opportunity for the region to grasp and no longer to be viewed as a potential threat.