It was a demonstration of typical American hypocrisy. While promising Afghans peace and stability, Washington actually created chaos and disturbance. If it tries to play the same trick in Southeast Asia, Washington will only find its shenanigans are doomed to fail.
Firstly, what has transpired in Afghanistan further lays bare the nonsensical nature of the “lip service” the United States has in store for Southeast Asia.
The latest round of such “service” came from Harris herself, who on Tuesday hyped the United States’ relationship with the Indo-Pacific region and Southeast Asian countries as longstanding and enduring.
Based on the analogy people around the world have been making between the Americans’ evacuation in Kabul and their hectic evacuation from the embassy roof in Saigon in 1975, one really has to wonder: how enduring will such “commitments” be?
Secondly, while Harris accused China of undermining the rules-based order and threatening the sovereignty of nations, it is Washington that is actually doing so in the South China Sea.
According to the think tank South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative, in the first half of 2021, the intensity of the U.S. Navy’s surveillance activities in the South China Sea was significantly on the rise. Out of 181 days, there were 161 when at least one U.S. surveillance ship was deployed in the waters, which was often accompanied by U.S. guided-missile destroyers and antisubmarine patrol aircraft, showing explicit combat-oriented patterns.
On the contrary, China has been keenly working with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on preserving order in the South China Sea, with an agreement made in June among the parties to work together for an early agreement on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
It is thus crystal clear to all who really is a threat to the rules and order in the region.
Thirdly, the ties between China and Southeast Asian countries are based on enormous development interests that cannot be easily altered.
Statistics from China’s General Administration of Customs showed that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, trade between China and the ASEAN in the first half of this year still reached 410.75 billion U.S. dollars, up 38.2 percent year on year.
As for Vietnam, in the first seven months of 2021, its exports to China and imports from the country grew by 24.2 percent and 48.5 percent respectively year on year.
Right before Harris’ arrival in Vietnam on Tuesday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh noted when meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Xiong Bo that the country is willing to work with China to guard against efforts to sow regional discord, such as so-called “peaceful revolutions.”
However deceptive and inciting, Harris’ rhetoric during her trip fools no one. Washington’s futile attempts to form an anti-China arc in the region have failed before; attempts to do so again won’t work either.