Given China's rapid military expansion, Asian democracies must be bold in devising a "track two" plan and other strategies to promote security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, a former National Security Council official said yesterday.
In a keynote address to a panel at the Democratic Pacific Union's (DPU) second convention at the Grand Hotel, Parris Chang (張旭成) said Asian democracies should adopt concrete measures to deal with Beijing's military aggression.
He said they should implement a proliferation security initiative; coordinate anti-terrorist, anti-piracy and humanitarian rescue efforts in the South China Sea; ask the EU to maintain its arms embargo against China, and to ban the sales of weapons systems and dual-use technologies to China.
Chang said now more than ever Asian democracies need to work together to promote peace and security in the region. They should also elevate the exchange of intelligence and sensitive information to a strategic dialogue.
Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he agreed with the need for a proliferation security initiative, but disagreed with the characterization of the US' defense policy as "hedging defense strategy."
US strategy has two aspects, he said. One was to prepare for the worst, which was what Chang addressed in his remarks, he said.
The second was to work for the best outcome, to interact with China in a positive direction, he said.
Cossa said that he disagreed with Chang that Beijing has tried to crowd the US out of Asia because China and other countries in the region understand that while China is an "800 pound gorilla in everyone's backyard in Asia," the US is "still the 1,600 pound gorilla living next door."
"The question is not how do we make Americans go away, but how do we get Americans to pay more attention to us," Cossa said. "The problem is not the Chinese pushing us away, but us in some cases [being] too preoccupied. But I do believe that that's changing."
US Representative Eni Faleomavaega from American Samoa said that Cold War was over and the US has spent more than US$5 trillion to get to this level.
"We are all aware of the obvious political ideologies and differences between the People's Republic of China and other countries, including my own, but we have to deal with them and hopefully resolve interests that affect the entire region, especially for us here in the Asia-Pacific [region]," he said.
Japanese lawmaker Akiko Yamanaka quoted Greek philosopher Aristotle as saying that "it is more difficult to organize peace than to win a war, but the fruits of victory will be lost if the peace is not well organized."
Paul Monk, managing director and chief consultant of Melbourne,Australia-based Austhink Consulting said that there were four possible scenarios for China's future.
First, "mutation" -- China would transform itself from within and there would be political and legal reform in China, he said.
The second was "maturation," he said -- China would be better off in some respects, but with enormous social, demographic, environmental and economic challenges.
The third Monk called "militarization." China would lurch into national chauvinism, whether out of pride or aggravation, he said. The last scenario was what he called "metastasis," when China starts to fall apart.