From the Rohingya crisis through Pakistan's terrorism quagmire to India's Hindu-Muslim conflicts, Asia was caught up in a number of ethnic issues in the past year. These issues, intertwined with Muslim extremism and Islamophobic sentiments, have become more complicated, posing the toughest challenge to Asia in the new year.
With the defeat of Islamic State in the Middle East, it's highly likely that extremists will flow back to the countries of their origins. If these terrorists collude with local ethnic armed groups in Asia, a string of terrorism strongholds may take shape in the region, putting the security of regional countries under long-term threat.
Worse still, the bombardment of media reports about Islamic-related terrorism attacks has given rise to Islamophobic sentiments worldwide. Such a fear deepens estrangement between the international community and innocent Muslims, jeopardizes religious reconciliation, raises the risks of violence and makes it even more difficult to untie already-intricate ethnic knots.
It's also worth noting that certain problems are a combined result of historical, ethnic and religious disputes and the solution should thus be left to regional countries. However, some outside countries are interfering in regional affairs and ramping up tensions.
What Asian countries need most is to find a path that best suits their actual national situation and answers their call for development.
As a responsible power, China insists regional issues should be peacefully settled via communications among relevant parties and is willing to contribute to this end and play its due role.
The benefits of globalization are critical to the stability of Asian countries. Development is essential to addressing ethnic issues as poverty is the root cause of turbulence and conflicts.
The international community should allocate more resources to extricating the region from poverty, promoting regional development through poverty alleviation and achieving peace and stability through development.
China proposed a three-phase solution to the issue of Myanmar's Rakhine state in November. Apart from calling for an onsite cease-fire and communications between Myanmar and Bangladesh, China suggested priority should be given to strategies that address the root cause of the issue: poverty.
The current situation in Asia suggests that improving the quality and speed of development, promoting economic cooperation and gradually establishing a mechanism to address ethnic issues are urgent tasks for the region.
In 2018, China will continue its efforts in maintaining stability in the Southeast Asian neighborhood and preserving the sound momentum of regional cooperation. Beijing will actively explore a way of resolving hotspot issues with Chinese characteristics so as to promote development through cooperation and settle regional issues through development.
Courtesy of Global Times