China on Wednesday said the Indo-Pacific strategy advocated by the outgoing Trump administration is aimed to “contain” Beijing, sabotage regional peace and stability and maintain US hegemony in the region.
The strong Chinese reaction came after a declassified US government document advocated a strong India as a “counterbalance” to the communist giant in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
The document was recently declassified in part by US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and now has been posted on the website of the White House.
“India’s preferred partner on security issues is the United States. The two cooperate to preserve maritime security and counter Chinese influence in South and Southeast Asia and other regions of mutual concern. India maintains the capacity to counter border provocations by China,” said the US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific.
Replying to a question on the release of the document, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here: “Some US politicians want to leave behind a legacy by declassifying the document.”
“…but its content only serves to expose the malign intention of the United States to use its Indo-Pacific strategy to suppress and contain China and undermine regional peace and stability,” Zhao said.
“In essence, this is a strategy of hegemony,” he said.
He said the US strategy “highlights the Cold War mentality and military confrontation, which goes against the mutually-beneficial spirit of regional cooperation, runs counter to regional people’s aspiration for peace, stability and development, and threatens regional prospects of peace and development.”
This US strategy should rightly be thrown into the dustbin of history, Zhao said.
“The US side is obsessed with ganging up, forming small cliques and resorting to despicable means such as wedge-driving, which fully exposed its true face as a trouble-maker undermining regional peace, stability, solidarity and cooperation,” Zhao said.
China is committed to the path of peaceful development and a defence policy that is defensive in nature, he said.
“The Asia-Pacific is a region where Chinese and American interests are most tightly entwined and interact most frequently,” Zhao said.
“We hope the US side will discard the Cold War zero sum mentality, earnestly respect China’s core interests and major concerns, strengthen communication and dialogue with China, properly manage differences and help make the Asia-Pacific a stage for mutually-beneficial cooperation instead of an arena for major power rivalry,” he said.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory. China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Beijing has impeded commercial activity like fishing or mineral exploration by countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, claiming that the ownership of territory belonged to China for hundreds of years.
The White House document said its objective is to prevent China’s industrial policies and unfair trading practices from distorting global markets and harming US competitiveness.
Actions recommended by it are to counter Chinese predatory economic practices that freeze out foreign competition, undermine US economic competitiveness, and abet the Chinese Communist Party’s aspiration to dominate the 21st century economy.
Another objective of the framework is to strengthen the capacity of emerging partners in South Asia, including the Maldives, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, to contribute to a free and open order.