Chinese and Western observers seemed to reach a consensus on Wednesday over President Xi Jinping's proposal to establish a new framework for security cooperation in Asia, and he also sent a veiled warning to Washington.
"To beef up a military alliance targeting a third party is not conducive to regional common security," Xi said without mentioning the United States when delivering a keynote speech at a regional security forum in Shanghai on Wednesday.
Provocation and escalation of tensions for selfish interests should be opposed, he told participants at the fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, including representatives from Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. Instead, Beijing is urging Washington to get used to China's rise and take a proper role in the region, which is the world's economic engine but is also prone to security threats.
"Someone who tries to blow out another's oil lamp will set his beard on fire," the president said, quoting a Kazakh proverb, drawing the attention of Kazakh reporters who were watching the live feed of the speech in the media centre.
Xi's remarks came amid recent escalating tension in the South China Sea as some Asian countries, especially those having territorial rows with China, have sought to reaffirm their security ties with Washington.
Pang Zhongying, a professor of international affairs at Renmin University of China, said: "It is time to tell the US it is not justified in interfering in Asia's affairs, which have nothing to do with the country."
Washington's engagement in Asia's territorial issues, for example, has complicated the problems and emboldened its allies, he said.
During an Asian tour last month, US President Barack Obama sought to reassure Washington's traditional allies like Tokyo and Manila about its long-promised strategic pivot toward the Asia-Pacific, widely regarded as an attempt to counter China.
Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the alliance, a product of the Cold War, deepened divisions in Asia while weakening regional willingness for economic cooperation.
"Many countries tend to give up diplomatic efforts as they believe they can just rely on such an alliance to bolster their illegal claims over territory and sea," Ruan said.
Xi spoke against a zero-sum, Cold War concept of security, saying "no country should attempt to dominate regional security affairs or infringe upon the legitimate rights and interests of other countries".
Security problems in Asia should eventually be solved by Asians themselves, he said, reiterating China's stance to resolve disputes peacefully and to oppose the arbitrary use of force or threats.
Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher on international affairs at the China Institute of International Studies, said, "A US role in Asia is not unthinkable for China, and its constructive role is very welcome in some multilateral problems."
"But it's a pity that what Washington is doing now is far from being constructive," Jia added.
Pang said the US has to accept the fact that China is developing in an age of global transformation, but China is not building another alliance to target any third party.