The United States is trying to conquer China with its latest suitor for ASEAN
The United States is trying to conquer China with its latest suitor for ASEAN

The United States is trying to conquer China with its latest suitor for ASEAN

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14 May 2022 16:40 IST

Washington [US]May 14 (ANI): Southeast Asia suddenly became the power theater of the East as the United States steps up to abandon its rivalry with China in courting ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
US President Joe Biden convenes a meeting between these countries in Washington in May second week amid the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, has no other obvious purpose.
For China, the ASEAN meeting in Washington provides an advantage in its power projection exercise in the sense that it is a recognition by the United States that China is its main rival and confirms the importance of the Asian bloc for competition between China and the United States.
As both sides court ASEAN, Biden’s latest attempt is seen as an “effort to court ASEAN members caught in a delicate balancing act between superpowers”.
The US administration admitted the same thing when the White House issued a press release prior to the meeting, saying: “It is a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration to serve as a strong, reliable partner in Southeast Asia. Our common hopes for the region will continue in supporting our common commitment to promote an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, secure, connected and resilient. “
Given the purpose of the meeting, Biden plays on the tones of the block of nations. The discussion on international security issues, the economic framework in Southeast Asia, the issue of US economic concessions and, of course, regional security involving the South China Sea were sufficient to satisfy both sides.
ASEAN did not make bones out of realizing that it stands firm between China and the United States and wants concessions on its own terms as part of its strategy to be courted by the great powers. Joanne Lin, a senior researcher at the ASEAN Studies Center at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, told CNBC, “ASEAN would probably like to see more US support for its ASEAN-led mechanisms, as opposed to US-led minilateral groups such as “Quad and Aukus.”
However, China has also courted ASEAN, “and not only with trade and investment, which are probably its most powerful influences in Southeast Asia”, because in the last ten years, “Beijing has steadily expanded its media influence in these countries in four important ways, such as a means of shaping their views “, according to Asian media.
Compared to President Biden’s high-profile suit campaigns, China’s attempts have been subtle and consistent over a period of time. The communist government has relied on its extensive propaganda machinery to constantly target ASEAN nations with its specialized content. For example, Xinhua, China’s official state media agency, has print agencies in all Southeast Asian countries. The TV news channels CCTV-4 and the English-language CGTN also have offices in this region. China Radio International broadcasts multilingual content in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.

DefenseOne, an expert on US defense and national security, said: “China also broadcasts its media through partnerships and content-sharing agreements with foreign media organizations in the target countries. Such agreements are attractive to Southeast Asian countries, in part because they provide free content for local media. “Of course, China uses them to inject its favorite tales, laundered through well-known news sources, into homes across the region.”
Chinese media have also secured content sharing agreements with their counterparts in the ASEAN countries. “China has also built relationships with journalists in these countries in other ways. Since 2007, Beijing has organized several joint fora with ASEAN to promote media exchange and cooperation.”
The China Public Diplomacy Association is directly involved in organizing trips to China for ASEAN journalists. One of them is a ten-month training program for foreign journalists, which includes “lectures on Chinese society and politics, internships at state-owned enterprises such as China Daily and (heavily controlled) excursions to Xinjiang to promote the CCP’s narrative there”. In 2019, as many as 100 ASEAN journalists participated in the program and returned with an overload of information.
The Chinese government also supports various journalistic associations, “apparently to promote understanding and good relations between Chinese and foreign journalists”, but essentially develops a network of “friendly” journalists in ASEAN. Other Chinese governments and media outlets “are targeting and targeting ethnic Chinese in other countries in an attempt to shape their views or recruit them to serve the CCP’s priorities.”
Private Chinese companies are also shaping Southeast Asia’s media environment. WeChat, for example, offers text messaging, electronic payments and news sharing and is gaining popularity in Southeast Asian countries. So much so that in 2020 “it was approved for use by the Indonesian central bank, establishing it as a legal form of payment in Southeast Asia’s largest economy”
In another move, ByteDance, the Chinese company responsible for TikTok, bought the Indonesian news aggregator BaBe in 2018, which has since begun “censoring news criticizing the Chinese government.”
Some of these efforts by China to use ASEAN media to “tell China’s history well” are yielding results. DefenseOne refers to a 2021 survey of “ASEAN elites (academics, policy makers, journalists and business people) found that most people see China as more influential in their region than the United States”. What China is not talking about is the second result of the survey that “Beijing’s public opinion war ‘has failed to overcome high regional mistrust of China”. For example, “an overwhelming majority in all countries – from about 69 percent in Laos to almost 98 percent in Vietnam – were ‘concerned’ about China’s growing political and strategic influence”.
However, that is no reason for the United States to celebrate. The study also revealed mixed results for Americans’ efforts to woo. “While confidence in the United States jumped from 35 percent to 55 percent after the election of President Biden, a majority in six out of ten ASEAN states was concerned about the political and strategic influence of the United States in their country.”
Thus, China wants to use information warfare to influence negative perceptions of the United States in ASEAN, while the Americans are keen to seek out a personal species to overwhelm the bloc with concessions to woo them away from China. (ANI)

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