US President Barack Obama's tour to Southeast Asia has "a menacing manner", said a state-run Chinese daily.
An article in the Global Times said that Obama's presence has "stirred up assumptions" about the 10-member ASEAN politics as the 21st ASEAN Summit and its related meetings kicked-off in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is also attending the summit.
"It seems there is a contest between China's and the US' strategic expectations for ASEAN," said the daily Monday.
It said that East Asia is an eventful region, as competing interests of big powers often generate conflict, coupled with the pressure added by China's rise.
But, the daily advised, ASEAN "shouldn't get mired in the conflicts of big powers".
It said the proposition that countries should rely on the US to balance China is tempting, but ASEAN countries "lack experience in dealing with great powers".
"They may risk becoming the puppet of countries like the US and Japan," it warned.
"Realistically speaking, it's impossible for ASEAN countries to unitedly confront China. China is the biggest trading partner with ASEAN. Cooperating with China is more urgent than guarding against any `China threat', as there are more practical national interests attached to the former," it added.
The daily said: "Obama's tour seemingly has a menacing manner, but it cannot change the reality that Southeast Asia is economically tied to China."
It went on to say there may be some political and military implications in providing encouragement to some countries, but "Southeast Asian countries have seen this kind of tempt many times over the past four years, and its effectiveness is fading".
The article observed that increased US engagement in East Asia will certainly bring China more trouble.
"China should try to decrease the apprehension of ASEAN countries and other countries in East Asia regarding China. This doesn't mean China should make compromises in territorial disputes. It should communicate patiently with relevant countries, making them understand China is not an ambitious country, and that a peaceful neighbourhood is China's basic expectation," it said.