China says Asian nations should avoid being used as chess pieces | ASEAN News

China’s top diplomat says Southeast Asia should be ‘insulated from geopolitical calculations’ as competition between major powers increases.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that Southeast Asian nations should avoid being seen as “pawns in great power competitions”.

Addressing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Monday, Mr. Wang said many countries in the region are under pressure to take sides.

“We should insulate this region from geopolitical calculations and the trap of the law of the jungle, from being used as a pawn in great power contests and from coercion,” he said, passing an interpreter.

He added: “The future of our region should be in our hands.

Southeast Asia has long been an area of ​​geopolitical conflict between great powers due to its strategic importance, with countries in the region now wary of being caught in the middle of US competition- China.

As tensions rise, China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its territory based on what it says are historical maps, contradicting some ASEAN countries that say the claim is inappropriate. with international law.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 11, 2022.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 11, 2022 [Rusman/Courtesy of Indonesian Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters]

Wang’s speech came just days after he attended the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali and amid China’s tense diplomacy that has seen him make a series of points. stops across the region in recent weeks.

On the sidelines of the G20, Wang organized five o’clock meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and both described their first face-to-face talks since October as “frank”.

Wang said on Monday that he had told Blinken that both sides should discuss establishing rules for positive interactions and jointly upholding regionalism in the Asia Pacific.

“The core elements are to support ASEAN centrality, maintain the existing regional corporate framework, and respect each other’s legitimate rights and interests in the Asia Pacific instead of aiming at against or restrain the other,” he said.

Wang also called on ASEAN countries to oppose “fake regional cooperation that makes some countries absent” – a reference to US-led security and trade blocs that China does not participate in.

The meeting between Wang and Blinken comes amid preparations for virtual talks in the coming weeks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden.

After a long period of cooling off due to the pandemic between the two countries, the heads of defense, finance and national security of the two countries have all spoken out since last month.

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