China Coast Guard (CCG). File Photo

China can’t match US influence – analyst

CHINA will not be able to match the United States’ influence in East Asia and Southeast Asia because of its expansionist actions, including its incursions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), a political analyst said recently.

“China simply does not have the trust of its neighboring countries to allow it [to] exercise the kind of role that Americans have,” said Richard McGregor, a senior fellow for East Asia at Lowy Institute in Australia.

“That’s why I think we are sort of moving into a very difficult period as these quite natural and quite intractable conflicts try to work themselves out,” he said.

McGregor, a non-resident senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the United States, stressed this in a recent forum hosted by the think tank Stratbase ADR Institute.

He claimed that many countries in the region “distrust” China because of its bullying tactics in the South China Sea.

He said that the US has no territorial disputes in the region, in contrast to China’s actions that have caused maritime disputes with many countries.

“So you look at China and you look at the air defense identification zone, you look at the exclusive economic zone of the SEA (Southeast Asia), you look at actual territory,” McGregor said.

China has disputes with South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, “and that’s all of course without thinking of Taiwan,” he said.

McGregor said that while some countries have worked out their disputes with China, the maritime situation in Asia will be “highly unstable in the next decade or two.”

He pointed out while top Chinese leaders discuss diplomacy in international meetings, “it appears that its military actions are a separate thing.”

“Obviously because China is richer, therefore they can do all sorts of things they wanted to do, they are more confident in using their military in a sort of arm in their diplomatic toolkit,” he said.

McGregor said China is prepared to handle its conflicts on different fronts. “So China’s priorities — Taiwan, East China Sea, South China Sea or West Philippine Sea — these are all now within reach, and so China talks about it a lot more and prepares for that a lot more.”

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