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Ding Gang: Common development a solution to sea spat


By Ding Gang    Source: Global Times    Published: 2016-10-26


One of the world`s most challenging issues today is development. A platitude possibly, but it nevertheless embodies a number of political and diplomatic phenomena. They might seem quite strange looking in from the outside, but they are actually quite normal in nature.  

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte`s recent visit to China is a classic example. To quite a few people, Duterte`s sudden change in his stance towards Beijing cannot be taken seriously. It was a visit, however, that was bound to happen.

What is the Philippines most pressing issue currently? Development. In fact, Duterte won this summer`s election on the grounds that his roadmap for development was much more compelling than his competitors. Against everything else he hopes to achieve during his term, sustainable economic development must be prioritized.

And that`s why he`s cozying up to Beijing, instead of looking for confrontation or separation. As a near-neighbor, he understands that China can provide much of what other world powers cannot.

Here we can also see why Washington`s attempts to rebalance its strategy in the Asia-Pacific region - to counter the rise of China - are so difficult to achieve. It`s quite simple - the Americans can no longer drive development in the region with the same purpose as China.

As a matter of fact, we can see a new pattern of common development taking shape throughout the region, which is why Washington`s rebalancing strategy is gradually losing its dynamism and scope. Any strategy which ignores this development path is bound for failure.

China`s firm footing in the South China Sea has made the US think twice about its military control and interventions in the area. But it`s more this communal focus within the region that`s unsteadying the Americans.

A new order is needed, not only in the South China Sea region, but on the entire continent of Asia. It must be established and maintained on the basis of common development. Washington must fall into line if it wants to renew its dominance.

In their recent talks, China and the Philippines have shown that development is the fundamental factor when dealing with regional issues. The power of development is the most effective way to confront American military intervention.

The outside world is paying close attention to how much money Beijing is lending Manila and where it will ultimately be invested. Yet these are not even the most pressing matters. More telling are how will economic and trade relations develop between China and its neighboring countries, and what impact will China`s economic development have on the region as a whole?

When the region is so closely linked to China`s development, the way the people of the region view China will change from time to time.

All claimant nations in the South China Sea will closely follow Beijing-Manila relations. They will probably change their positions based on the progress of regional development.

The current situation has created an interesting opportunity for China to establish a new regional, political and economic pattern.

Only when China can form a system which is based upon comprehensive rules can its dominant position in Asia be established.

And by then, if American warships intrude into the region, there should be no need for China to drive them off, because its neighbors will cry out in unity and tell Washington its military presence is no longer necessary.

The author is a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

Key Words: Ching   US   South China Sea  

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