Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attend a meeting at the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia on July 11 – Photo: Reuters
Unlike his visits to South Asia in March and the South Pacific in June, which were purely exploratory in terms of tactics, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recently concluded Southeast Asia visit is seen by observers as having some The strategic goals are very clear.
Accordingly, Mr. Wang Yi’s trip is not only aimed at (1) integrating the single cooperation initiatives that China is building with small countries, but also at the same time (2) consolidating the linkage spaces. with Russia, just (3) engaged in balancing – counterbalancing the process of gathering forces of the US. Through these three strategic goals, Wang wants to gradually shape a model of pillar cooperation as the foundation for the entire new multilateral security architecture that Beijing has officially announced to pursue.
Integration of economic corridors
The visit comes shortly after the Philippines ended negotiations on a joint exploration area in disputed maritime areas with China. Besides, a series of infrastructure projects under the framework of the Belt and Road (BRI) cooperation with Indonesia and Malaysia have been delayed since 2018 until now. All have created an unfavorable start for Mr. Vuong’s visit this time.
However, with the approach of “using the big picture to resolve the matter”, Mr. Wang skillfully used good words such as “exchange lasting more than a thousand years” during his visit to the Philippines and Malaysia, ” close like a family” during a visit to Thailand, or the building of a “golden model” in regional cooperation at the Mekong – Lancang Conference… to affirm China’s willingness to accept risks unsatisfactory in the process of developing bilateral and multilateral relations with small countries.
From the foundation of “raising the big picture”, Mr. Vuong seems to have enlisted the great sympathy of the mainstream public opinion in the region to realize the first strategic goal: to integrate the economic corridors under construction. into a single large-scale corridor network.
Accordingly, he gained Thailand’s support in completing the corridor connecting China – Laos – Thailand by rail to create a freight route from Thailand’s eastern economic corridor to Thailand. Yunnan province, China.
He also obtained the consensus of Malaysia to maintain communication to build Malaysian railways connecting to China-Laos, China-Thailand railways through the Trans-Asian railway network. The Malaysian side also agreed to maintain contact with China on the construction of a railway from Malaysia to Singapore – the focal point connecting the China-Laos-Thai railway corridor with the new maritime-land trade corridor (ILSTC). ) was also founded by China in 2019.
In addition, Mr. Vuong Nghi also announced the establishment of 6 cooperation directions, 6 development plans and 6 documents to develop the Mekong – Lancang Cooperation mechanism into a Mekong – Lancang economic corridor, step by step. linking this corridor with the ILSTC, consolidating the chain of integrated trade corridors in which China has great influence from the west to the central region of Southeast Asia.
New security architecture
The chain of integrated corridors that the Chinese side has just shaped after Mr. Wang Yi’s visit to the region in fact has a very high flexibility when it can be extended to interact with the Vladivostok – Chennai maritime corridor, which is the axis of Russia. – India is building silently with the Philippines since 2019.
Since then, it has created 3 corridors connecting directly from China’s Chengdu – Chongqing and Yunnan economic arcs to all ASEAN countries in particular and the Indian Ocean countries in general, while realizing the goal of achieving this goal. The goal is to share strategic influence in the new maritime security initiatives that the Russia-India axis is building in the region.
Not only that, the fact that Mr. Wang Yi tried to choose a time to visit Thailand right before the visit of the US Secretary of State
A. Blinken also shows the goal of balancing China’s influence in a country that the US considers a major ally outside of NATO.
Similarly, Mr. Wang Yi also became the second senior Chinese official (after Vice Premier Wang Qishan) to visit the Philippines – another US treaty ally in the region – within the first 14 days of his term in office. the period of the new President F. Marcos Jr. The incident shows a marketer attitude and serious desire to improve bilateral relations in a more positive and warm way than before.
While the Indo-Pacific Economy (IPEF) initiative announced by the US side has not yet clearly defined the central architecture, it can be seen that China is one step ahead in the competition to determine security structures in the region.
In general, in just one 12-day visit (from 3 to 14 July), Mr. Wang Yi not only enhanced his interactions with important partners (through two major multilateral conferences, the G-20 Summit and the G-20 Summit). and the Mekong – Lancang Summit), but also promptly shaped the foundation of an open regional security architecture with the pillar being an integrated economic corridor network with the core participation of countries in the region. Mekong – Lan Thuong cooperation mechanism.
TH.S. LU MINH TUAN