After leaders of some Southeast Asian countries firmly maintained that they would not take sides between China and the U.S., as many of them are dependent on China for trade and have deep security ties with the U.S. - during the Shangri-La Dialogue on Sunday - China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded on Monday by saying it is the common aspiration of the regional countries to maintain strategic independence and keep the region stable and prosperous.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Monday that these Southeast Asian countries' remarks - that they do not want to see a new cold war or to take sides between China and the U.S. - are a clear indication that many countries in this region are alerted by and opposed to certain country's attempt to set off a "new cold war" in Asia and force regional countries to choose sides.
What countries want in this region is to maintain strategic independence and keep the region stable and prosperous, he noted.
What is particularly concerning is that certain countries, while claiming to champion freedom and openness and aim to preserve peace and prosperity in the region, have been in fact patching up various military blocs and extending NATO's influence into the Asia-Pacific. The attitude of the majority of countries in the region is very clear. They oppose the emergence of military blocs in the region. They don't welcome NATO's outreach in Asia. They don't want a replica of bloc confrontation in Asia. And they certainly will not allow any cold war or hot war to happen again in Asia, Wang stressed.
Wang also said that Asia is the most economically dynamic and promising region in the world. It can offer a vast stage for win-win cooperation, and should not be divided into isolated, exclusive blocs. Asian countries welcome common efforts to succeed together. They do not welcome schemes that could bring trouble to this region.
He reiterated that China firmly supports ASEAN centrality and an inclusive regional cooperation architecture, and would like to work with ASEAN countries and other partners in the region to uphold the spirit of open and win-win cooperation, oppose any rhetoric or action that incites bloc confrontation in Asia, and together make sure that Asia will remain a pillar for peace, a pacesetter for development and a promising land for cooperation.