Saturday, 4 June 2011

Embrace China, says Najib; US not restricting China & to keep military prence in Asia: Gates




Embrace China, says Najib

By NELSON BENJAMIN nelson@thestar.com.my

SINGAPORE: China should be engaged in a positive and constructive manner and not seen as an adversary, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

He said Malaysia was fully convinced that the rise of China would be a benign influence in the region. “We do not feel threatened by China.

Guiding hand: US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates gesturing as he meets Najib on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue yesterday. — Reuters
 
 
“It will be a mistake to see China as an adversary and if we treat China in a positive and constructive manner, they will also respond to us positively.

“I can tell you that the Chinese have a good memory and if you do them a good deed, they will remember for a long time,” he said at the 10th International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue here yesterday.

Citing an example, Najib said Malaysia was the first South-East Asian country to establish diplomatic ties with China during his late father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein’s tenure and until today, it was still being talked about in the country.

“I am optimistic that besides China, we can also develop a meaningful and constructive relationship with India,” he said, adding that trade with these two countries had been on the rise.

“In Asean we do not have to make a choice.

“We do not want to go back to a Cold War mentality and we look forward to engagements and relationships not just with India and China but others, including the United States,” he added.

On the build-up of conventional arms in the region especially involving navies, Najib downplayed it as a modernisation effort saying that this was part of efforts by countries as their economies got stronger and wealthier.

He said there would be more to lose if countries were engaged in conflicts while there was more to gain if everyone continued to engage constructively.

Earlier in his speech, Najib reiterated Malaysia’s role as a responsible global citizen with actions to help ensure global peace and stability.

“We will continue to play our part and show that our commitment is not merely rhetorical but is backed up by action,” he said, touching on the peacekeeping efforts by Malaysian soldiers, the deployment of female doctors to Afghanistan, Malaysia’s fight against terrorism and the intermediary role it played in southern Philippines.

He also touched on Malaysia’s readiness to be deployed to Bahrain to play a role if invited by the people there.

He also added that there was a new set of asymmetric and non-traditional security challenges involving human trafficking, drug smuggling and nuclear proliferation.
Najib also called for border disputes among regional countries to be resolved in the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation.

Also at the event, Najib outlined six strategies to maintain peace and stability in the region and called for the setting up of a new Rapid Response Team with the ability to respond to disasters.
“The way forward is through dialogue, engagement and consensus,” he added.



Gates: US not restricting China 

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

SINGAPORE / BEIJING - Outgoing US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday that the United States was not trying to "hold China down" and doubts that Beijing aims to match Washington's military power. 

"We are not trying to hold China down. China has been a great power for thousands of years. It is a global power and will be a global power," he said. 

Gates was speaking en route to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's most prominent security conference, scheduled for June 3 to 5 in Singapore, where he is scheduled to meet his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie on the sidelines of the meeting. 

Liang is the most senior Chinese official to attend the security conference. 

Gates added: "The Chinese have learned a powerful lesson from the Soviet experience, and they do not intend to try and compete with us across the full range of military capabilities." 

He was alluding to the ultimately fatal economic burden that the Soviets assumed in trying to keep up with Washington in the Cold War arms race. 

Gates said he is very satisfied with the progress of Washington's relationship with Beijing, but sees room for improvement between the two militaries. 

"Under those circumstances, there is value in a continuing dialogue by the two sides of just exactly what our concerns are, what our issues are and how we might alleviate the concerns on both sides," he said. 

Gates added that Washington will continue to build relationships with its allies in Asia despite potential budget restrictions and that Washington plans to remain a reliable partner in the region. 

"I would say, if anything, these pressures put a premium on multilateral responses to problems," he said. "Whether it's humanitarian assistance or disaster relief, we see opportunities with a number of countries out here, including China." 

It is Gates' seventh trip to Asia in the past 18 months and his final overseas trip before he retires on June 30. US President Barack Obama has named CIA Director Leon Panetta to replace him. 

Gates also said the reshaping of much of Obama's national security team - including the selection of Gates' own successor and the controversial search for a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - was at least a year in the making. 

In his first extended comments on the process, Gates said the key consideration was preserving what he called a sense of teamwork among the top national security aides as the administration winds down the US military role in Iraq and fashions a plan for turning over security responsibilities in Afghanistan by 2014. 

Obama announced on Monday that he would nominate General Martin Dempsey, who had just taken over on April 11 as army chief of staff. Gates said he would not discuss publicly his own recommendation to Obama for the joint chiefs selection. 

Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general of the China Council for National Security Policy Studies, said Gates is likely to make full use of his last overseas visit as defense secretary to meet Chinese military leaders and give another push to military ties between Washington and Beijing. 

"Gates, unlike his predecessor, has always been positive on improving military ties with China," Li said.
Although he might talk about a Chinese military "buildup" and "threats", the underlying theme of his speech and his meeting with Liang will be positive, Li added.
As for the change of US defense leaders, Li said it is unlikely to impact the improving ties between the two militaries. 

"US leaders, including Obama, Hillary Clinton and the new military leaders all know that military ties with Beijing have become more and more important for overall ties," he said. 

However, potential disputes still linger on regional hotspots, such as Taiwan, the South China Sea and US exercises in Northeast Asia, said Li. 

AP, AFP contributed to this story. 
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US to keep military presence in Asia: Gates 

By Ma Liyao and Zhou Wa (China Daily)
Neighbors appreciate China's efforts in maintaining regional security
US to keep military presence in Asia: Gates
Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie (right) shakes hands with former US defense secretary William Cohen at the Asia-Pacific security forum in Singapore on Saturday. [Photo/Agencies]

Singapore / Beijing - Despite its fiscal troubles, the US will maintain a "robust" military presence across Asia, backed up by new high-tech weaponry, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

Gates made the remark during a speech on the second day of the Shangri-La Dialogue, hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore. 

The US military will expand its presence by sharing facilities with Australia in the Indian Ocean and deploying new littoral combat ships in Singapore, where it has regular access to naval facilities, he said.

"Gates' comments were made as assurance to the allies of the US in the region that its policies will continue after his impending retirement," said Major General Luo Yuan, a senior researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences.

Gates will step down by the end of June, and the current director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, has been nominated to replace him.

Worries about the ability of the US to maintain its military presence have been raised as President Barack Obama faces mounting political pressure to deal with Washington's $1.4 trillion budget deficit and more than $14 trillion in debt. 

Gates said that he would take a $100 bet that "in five years, the US influence in this region will be as strong, if not stronger than now". 

The US remains as the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific region, and its influence over the region will continue in the next five years, said Yuan Peng, director of the American Studies Center at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing.

In his speech, Gates also said the key to solving the maritime issues in the Southeast Asia is to provide a "peaceful mechanism" that will not intensify tensions. 

"We should not lose any time before strengthening these mechanisms of dealing with the claims. Clashes serve nobody's interests," he said in answer to questions about the South China Sea issues.

China's stance on these issues remains that they should be solved bilaterally, between China and other coastal countries. 

Confidence is needed that the parties concerned can solve the problems themselves through a peaceful bilateral mechanism.

The regional disputes should be solved by countries in this region, Luo said, adding that a third party, who is not familiar with the history and culture in the region and has a different mode of thinking, can make things more complicated .

During meetings with Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, China's neighbors voiced appreciation on Saturday for Beijing's efforts toward regional security and international assistance.

Kim Kwan-jin, defense minister of the Republic of Korea, appreciated China's work at maintaining stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula and thanked China for its help in protecting South Korean merchant ships in waters off Somalia from pirate attacks in February.

Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and Wayne Mapp, defense minister of New Zealand, thanked China for its rapid aid to their countries when they were struck by major earthquakes this year.

Liang also met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is in charge of the country's national defense affairs and military industries. 

Gates called for all countries to recognize the potential problems caused by cyber attacks, saying that the US defense system is under attack "all the time".

The Pentagon is working to identify hackers, who will be responded to in kind or with traditional offensive action, Gates said. "We take the cyber threat very seriously and we see it from a variety of sources, not just one or another country," he said. 

"China is one of the biggest targets of cyber attacks," said Luo, adding that China always tries to work with other countries to fight against such attacks. 

AFP contributed to this story.