VietNamNet Bridge - "China is actively expanding its influence in Southeast Asia in the hope of taking this as a springboard to reach out to the world," said Dr. Nguyen Hong Son from Hanoi National University at a recent seminar.
In a seminar on the new international context and the impacts on ASEAN held at the University of Economics and Law last week, Vietnamese scholars and researchers said that China is emerging powerfully with the ambition of dominating the world. China wants to turn the coastal and maritime areas of Southeast Asian countries into its gates.
Dr. Nguyen Hong Son said that to ensure its development, China will have a huge demand for energy, raw materials and labor. China has used a strategy of conservation of its national resources and increasing exploitation of the resources of other countries, particularly its neighbors.
The strong emergence and growing influence in the region of China will put ASEAN in a more vulnerable position in its relationship with this country in all fields. “This imbalance, and China's intentions, may hamper the process of economic integration of ASEAN nations, especially for those nations most under Chinese influence. We may find that ASEAN serves the development of this 'big brother' more than meets the development requirements of the region," Son said.
Directing his attention to China’s aggression in the East Sea, Dr. Son said that this is one step in China's "expansion" in the region and the world. To implement this strategy, China will find ways to avoid the internationalization of the East Sea disputes. At the same time it will divide ASEAN solidarity to prevent the interference of this block. To achieve the goal, China will maintain the conflict at only a moderate level so that other countries, especially the United States, will be dissuaded from taking direct military intervention, but it will also be enough to put pressure on countries in the region.
According to Son, China on one side conducts disputes to extend its interest and on the other side uses economic leverage through preferential investment policies to influence less developed countries. "And China has been successful in dividing Southeast Asian countries, as it did at the ASEAN Summit in July 2012 when this organization failed to reach agreement on the East Sea issue," he said.
Sharing the same view of the rise of China, Dr. Pham Sy Thanh, Director of the Chinese Economic Research Program of the Hanoi University of Economics, said that "China is emerging as a world factory" and they require large amounts of raw materials and raw energy to meet development needs.
Southeast Asian countries have invested in the mining industry and the production of primary products for export to China to earn foreign currency. China, after refining and manufacturing these raw materials, sell these products back to Southeast Asian countries and easily acquires these markets. "It stunts the process of industrialization of these countries and many countries suffer from a trade deficit with China. Vietnam is one of the countries with the largest deficit," he said.
For the East Sea issues, this researcher also said that this is just one of the strategies of China in its global reach by means of a marine economy, once called the "Chinese dream". And China is doing everything to accomplish that dream.
Talking about the impact of the conflicts between China and Southeast Asian countries related to the East Sea, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Trang from the University of Economics and Law said that it affects the interests of all countries in the region and the world because the East Sea is considered the gateway to international maritime transport.
According to Trang, realizing the importance of the East Sea, China is expanding into it, through its so-called “U-shaped line”.
"China wants to turn the waters inside the U-shaped line into its own waters and at that time the rights of other countries, especially the Southeast Asian countries, must depend on China. This will have an impact on both economic and political issues," Trang said.
"The ASEAN countries should struggle with China for their rights as a group," she advised.
Compiled by Tran Cham