Beijing must reassure neighbours it will not be a regional bully
By Peh Shing Huei
IN 1944, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill met at the Moscow Conference and decided on how to divide south-eastern Europe into spheres of influence.
The result was the infamous 'Percentages Agreement', where the then Soviet Union would have 90 per cent influence in Romania, Britain 90 per cent in Greece, and 50-50 shared between the two great powers in Hungary and Yugoslavia.
A furious Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was reported to have remarked in the Asean regional meeting that 'China is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that is just a fact'.
In a recent New York Times article, an unnamed senior Obama administration official who often deals with the Chinese leadership was quoted as saying: 'As they (the Chinese) begin to manage their many constituencies, their politics is looking more like ours.'
Asian countries accept China's growing clout. How much they come to welcome or resent it, however, depends on China's behaviour as it grows in power.