We don’t want to fall into the trap of this competition
Hanoi (Thomas) – The chancellors of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Wednesday started a series of regional summits (summits) amid friction between the two great powers, the United States and China.
The summit is expected to seek collaboration to contain global threats and try to reduce retaliation between the two countries with the world’s largest economies – the US and China – competing for influence.
Russia, Japan, Australia, South Korea and India were among the countries that remotely joined the Vietnam-based summit.
Summit discussions will include a 27-nation security forum, as concerns over rhetoric and unintended conflict grow, and about other countries caught up in the fray.
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“The geopolitical and geo-economic situation in the region, including the South China Sea, is experiencing increasing volatility, which is detrimental to peace and stability,” Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in his opening address at ASEAN summit.
Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said in his opening speech that the role of international law and multilateral institutions is currently “very challenged”.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has warned the United States and China not to involve Southeast Asian countries in their geopolitical battle.
“We don’t want to fall into the trap of this competition,” Retno told Reuters ahead of the ASEAN Regional Forum, which will take place on September 12.
Retno said ASEAN does not want to take sides, but he also described the increase in militarization in the South China Sea as “worrying”.
The United States spoke fiercely against China in its trade, technology and maritime behavior. In addition, President Donald Trump repeated his harsh approach towards China before the U.S. presidential election.
Washington accuses Beijing of oppressing its neighbors by sending ships close to its offshore energy operations and accuses China of being an opportunist for carrying out military exercises and testing new defense equipment in some of the disputed territories while the disputed countries are fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
However, China says its actions are legitimate.
Since mid-August, the United States has repeatedly irritated China by sending warships into the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait and flying reconnaissance planes over Chinese military shooting exercises.
The United States has also blacklisted 24 Chinese entities for their involvement in the construction and militarization of artificial islands.
“We (ASEAN) don’t want to take sides – or be seen doing it,” said Collin Koh, an international security expert at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
In return, ASEAN will discuss with China the progress of long-awaited talks on maritime behavior, the development and access to a vaccine for COVID-19, Koh said.
He revealed that negotiations between ASEAN and the United States would encourage actions to contain military action and greater investment by American companies. Both parties will seek to “not focus on intensifying competition”.
The 10 members of ASEAN are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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Translator: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
Publisher: Mulyo Sunyoto
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