The United States has played up the South China Sea issue again in the international arena.
At the ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Hanoi last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked at length about U.S. “national interests” in the South China Sea.
Hintting there is what she called “coercion” in the region, Clinton called for consistence with customary international laws, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in particular.
It is ironic that the United States is asking others to abide by the UNCLOS while itself still shunning a UNCLOS full membership.
It is known to all that the U.S. Senate has not yet ratified the UNCLOS, as some U.S. politicians insist that the ratification would “diminish” U.S. “capacity for self-defense.”
While disputes remain between China and several countries around the South China Sea, they have already concluded the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in accordance with the UNCLOS.
Thanks to the DOC, the situation in the South China Sea remains peaceful, and no party has ever used “coercion” and posed any threat to regional peace or navigation security in the South China Sea.
Ignoring the advise of the Chinese delegation, Clinton, with a prepared script at hand, tried to make an issue of the South China Sea at the meeting, claiming she was objecting to the “use or threat of force” in this ocean area.
The question is: as the situation in the South China Sea is peaceful, what is the logic in Clinton’s “objection? ”
So her real intention is questionable.
History has repeatedly proven that the involvement of a superpower in disputed areas did, more often than not, complicate the situation and bring tragedy to parties concerned.
Superpowers often adopted the strategy of “divide and rule.” They stired up tensions, disputes and even conflicts, then set foot in to pose as a “mediator” or a “judge” in a bid to maximize their own interests.
In the 19th century, the British empire adopted the tactics of “divide and rule” to fight powers in the European continent.
Nowadays, the United States is resorting to the same old trick when dealing with some disputes and conflicts in the international arena.
By claiming U.S. national interests in the South China Sea, Washington intends to expand its involvement in an ocean area tens of thousands of miles away from America.
Obviously, Washington’s strategy is to play the old trick again in the South China Sea, in its bid to maintain America’s “long-held sway” in the western Pacific Ocean.
For decades, the United States has regarded itself as a dominant power in the Pacific Ocean, and the Pentagon deems any change of the status quo as a severe challenge to it.
As South Korea’s Yonhap news agency put it, Washington is worried that China’s presence in the South China Sea could “undermine America’s long-held sway in Asia.”
As a matter of fact, it is U.S. officials, scholars and media who are exaggerating the “tensions” in the South China Sea, while most countries in the region are convinced that the situation there is peaceful.
As Beijing-based The Global Times points out, Washington is trying to incite the hostility of countries around the South China Sea toward China in a bid to seek its own interests.
Unfortunately, some countries around the South China Sea are embracing the U.S. strategy, thus voluntarily playing into the hands of Washington.
These countries may cherish illusions about the internationalization of the South China Sea issue and hope for outside involvement that would cater to their own interests.
But the fact is that things will most likely run counter to their wishes, and they will finally turn into a chess piece of a superpower.
Take Hillary Clinton’s trip to Hanoi for example. While playing up the South China Sea issue, she immediately rapped a few ASEAN countries over the issues of “human rights” and “press freedoms.”
In short, Washington always puts its own interests above those of ASEAN countries and becomes lukewarm whenever it comes to the question of offering help to these countries.