Thursday 18, August 2022
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China warns Asean countries to avoid being used as 'chess pieces' by major powers

News Desk: China's foreign minister Wang Yi warned on Monday (July 11) during a policy speech in the Indonesian capital that countries should avoid being used as "chess pieces" by major powers in a region at risk of being reshaped by geopolitical factors.

Speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) secretariat in Jakarta, Wang, who was speaking through a translator, said many countries in the region were under pressure to take sides.

"We should insulate this region from geopolitical calculations… from being used as chess pieces from major power rivalry and from coercion," he said, adding: "The future of our region should be in our own hands."

South-east Asia has long been an area of geopolitical friction between major powers given its strategic importance, with some countries in the region wary of choosing sides in the current US-China rivalry.

Wang's speech comes just days after he attended a G-20 foreign ministers' meeting in Bali and amid intense Chinese diplomacy that has seen him make a string of stops across the region in recent weeks.

On the sidelines of the G-20, Wang held a five-hour meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with both describing their first in-person talks since October as "candid".

Wang said on Monday he had told Blinken both sides should discuss the establishment of rules for positive interactions and to jointly uphold regionalism in the Asia-Pacific.

"The core elements are to support Asean centrality, uphold the existing regional cooperation framework, respect each other's legitimate rights and interests in the Asia-Pacific instead of aiming to antagonise or contain the other side," Wang said.

Responding to a question about Taiwan after his speech, Wang said Washington "by distorting and hollowing out the One China policy, is trying to play the Taiwan card to disrupt and contain China's development".

Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have escalated in recent months as the Chinese military conducted repeated air missions over the Taiwan Strait, the waterway separating the island from China.

China regards self-ruled Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification with the mainland, by force if necessary. Taiwan says it will defend its freedoms and democracy, blaming China for the tensions.

Washington says it remains committed to its One China policy and does not encourage independence for Taiwan, but the United States is required to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself under its US Taiwan Relations Act.

"The two sides across the (Taiwan) Strait will enjoy peaceful development. But when the one-China principle is arbitrarily challenged or even sabotaged, there will be dark clouds or even ferocious storms across the strait," Wang said.

SK

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