China-Southeast Asia Relations: China Reassures Neighbors, Wary of US Intentions

Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
Content Type
Journal Article
Comparative Connections
Issue Number
Publication Date
4th Quarter
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Following last quarter‟s strong criticisms of US and regional moves seen directed against Chinese policies, Chinese leaders and commentary this quarter reverted to a reassuring message of good neighborliness and cooperation. Senior leaders interacted constructively and official Chinese media gave repeated emphasis to positive and mutually beneficial relations. Wariness of US policies and practices was registered in lower-level commentaries while Chinese officials interacted in business-like ways with US counterparts over regional issues. China consulted with ASEAN representatives seeking to implement a code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea, and a working group meeting was held in Kunming, China on Dec. 21-23. Handling of issues in the South China Sea was more moderate than the confrontational approach witnessed in Chinese actions and publicity over fishing and other rights in disputed waters in the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea. On the other hand, even reassurances underlined a determination to rebuff violations of China‟s “core interest” in protecting territorial claims. Some military exercises and enhanced patrols by Chinese ships also were noted in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, China‟s positive reaction to the November elections in Myanmar was in line with longstanding Chinese support for the authoritarian military leadership.
Political Geography
United States, China, Myanmar