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A singed article "AUKUS will not bring prosperity or stability" by Ambassador Hong Xiaoyong published in Strait Times
2021-10-21 15:23

On 21 Oct 2021, H.E. Mr. Hong Xiaoyong, Chinese Ambassador to Singapore, has a signed article published in the Strait Times titled "AUKUS will not bring prosperity or stability". The full text is as follows:

Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States recently announced an enhanced trilateral security partnership, Aukus, claiming that it will underpin stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

However, what we see is a resurgence of Cold War mentality and the "double standards" held by the US and the UK on the issue of nuclear non-proliferation. Many countries have expressed concern.

From publicly reported information, one cannot rule out the possibility of the US and the UK exporting more than 90 per cent-enriched uranium, that is, weapons-grade nuclear fuel, to non-nuclear state Australia.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) current safeguards system cannot verify whether Australia will use highly enriched uranium (HEU) in nuclear fuel for nuclear weapons.

IAEA director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi has stated that the nuclear submarine cooperation among the US, the UK and Australia will be the first time that a non-nuclear-weapon state has a nuclear submarine, which will take highly enriched uranium away from inspection for a period of time, and could result in a weakening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. In this regard, it is legitimate and justified for the international community to express its concerns.

The US government has always boasted that it "upholds a rules-based international order". However, it should be remembered that the US has only been a "vanguard" when it comes to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iranian nuclear issues, and imposed unilateral sanctions on them.

Instead, the US has downplayed the issue of nuclear proliferation in the case of Australia, one of its allies. Such contrast reminds us of the term "double standards". How can a rule based on "double standards" be called a rule?

The contrast also tells that the so-called rules of the US are imposed by its own will and interpreted and applied according to its own needs and standards. In fact, "might is right" is what the US follows. The non-proliferation system is established by the US, but what is the point of it if the US can undermine its authority and effectiveness at will.

More small circles

We have noted the Biden administration's recent remarks, saying that it will not seek a new Cold War. This is good. Still, what the US has done is hardly credible or convincing.

From the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, to the current Aukus, the US has formed more and more "small circles", in which the confrontation is sensed stronger and stronger. One cannot help but ask, what does the US want in the region?

Many scholars have pointed out that these mechanisms, no matter how they are disguised, are targeting China. This encourages major power confrontation. Aukus opens a Pandora's box which will bring neither prosperity nor stability to the region, but a trust deficit instead, and even an arms race and military confrontation that no regional country wants to see.

In a globalised world, countries are highly integrated and interconnected into a community with a shared future. All international and regional mechanisms should follow the path of peace and development, and facilitate mutual trust and cooperation among countries.

However, Aukus, a small group that is closed and exclusive, does not follow the path. It will go against Asean's vision of inclusiveness and openness, and the aspiration for peace and prosperity of people in the region.

At a time when countries in the region are facing severe challenges of combating Covid-19 and restoring economic growth, what we need are solidarity, growth and employment, not major country confrontation. Confrontation will lead us nowhere.

The Asian way

For years, countries in the region have embraced the "Asian Way" of consensus building and accommodating each other's comfort levels, built an inclusive and co-existing family, and forged a cooperation circle featuring common development.

The Asean-centred regional cooperation framework has also been established. Asean centrality has been playing an important role in the process. Such achievements are the results of relentless efforts of all the countries in the region, and should be cherished and upheld.

The emergence of Aukus, however, casts a shadow over prosperity and stability in the region. Should its existence lead to major power confrontation or even military confrontation, the current regional cooperation framework and Asean centrality would cease to exist.

Not a single country in the world today is able to realise its own security without overall security in the world. Still less can a country guarantee its own security at the expense of others.

Peace and security in the region hinge on respecting and safeguarding the security of each regional country, and on efforts to realise enduring security for all in the region through dialogue and cooperation.

Only by upholding the "Asian Way" and adhering to the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security can countries in the region embark on a path to Asian security based on extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Such a path is in the fundamental interests of all countries in the region.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of China-Asean dialogue relations, which is an important milestone for the two sides. China will always treat Asean as a good neighbour and a good partner, take active efforts to advance friendly and cooperative relations with Asean, and work with Asean for peace, prosperity and the well-being of the people in the region.

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