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Taiwan tensions this week affect ASEAN gatherings

On Friday, tensions over recent events in Taiwan overshadowed an Asian gathering of foreign ministers, deflecting attention from a conference that had been planned to centre on initiatives to resolve the Myanmar problem among other things.


Taiwan tensions this week affect ASEAN gatherings

PHONM PENH, 4:35PM, Aug 5 (Reuters) Friday's meeting of Asian foreign ministers was overshadowed by tensions related to recent events in Taiwan, diverting attention away from a conference that intended to focus on steps to address the Myanmar crisis.

Foreign ministers from the United States, China, Russia, Japan, and Australia attended the meeting of foreign ministers that ASEAN, hosted by the regional group of Southeast Asia. The trip to Taiwan by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, has caused diplomatic tension during this week's talks. As a result, China has conducted extensive military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, including launching live missiles around the self-governing island as it claims is a part of its sovereign territory.

In a press conference held during an ASEAN meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that "there is no justification for this severe, disproportionate, and escalatory military response." "Now, they've raised the bar for risky behavior." He emphasized that while Washington will continue to help its partners, and perform routine air and sea transit via the Taiwan Strait, it would not take any steps to incite a crisis.

On Thursday, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued a call for moderation and a warning about the possibility of blunders and conflict between major countries. On Friday, 27 foreign ministers attended the annual ASEAN Regional Forum security meeting as well as the plenary sessions of the East Asia Summit. When their Japanese counterpart spoke on Friday, the foreign ministers of China, Wang Yi, and Russia, Sergei Lavrov, left the meeting, according to a witness.

A day earlier, Wang had canceled a meeting with Yoshimasa Hayashi of Japan in Cambodia, citing China's objection to a G7 statement urging Beijing to resolve tensions over Taiwan peacefully. According to Reuter's journalists, Wang on Thursday arrived late for an ASEAN gala dinner and left the location shortly after. After the summit of the bloc's foreign ministers, which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, ASEAN released a communique on Friday. Taiwan was excluded from the communique, which also addressed Myanmar. ASEAN expressed its "grave disappointment" at the meager progress achieved by Myanmar's military government in carrying out a peace accord to end the country's war.

In addition to "guide the decision on the next measures," the statement suggested that an ASEAN summit in November evaluate the junta's implementation of the peace plan. In the communiqué, it was said that "we...expressed our worries over the protracted political crisis in the nation, including the death of four opposition activists." Myanmar is a member of ASEAN, but until the ASEAN peace plan has made headway, its generals, who have justified the most recent murders as essential, are not allowed to attend its meetings. The five-point "consensus" for peace demands a halt to violence, communication between the parties, and humanitarian aid from ASEAN.

The war in Myanmar has been increasing since the army repressed largely nonviolent protests in towns and cities, and there has been little indication that the bloodshed is going to stop. At the beginning of the summit, Hun Sen, the prime minister of Cambodia, warned that if Myanmar's military authorities continue to execute inmates, ASEAN would be compelled to evaluate the peace plan. Some ASEAN countries have been outspoken in their condemnation of Myanmar, despite the group's history of refraining from meddling in one another's internal affairs.

Saifuddin Abdullah, the foreign minister of Malaysia, claimed that the junta has been aggravating everyone in ASEAN and making a mockery of the peace accord, which should include its opponents. Before Friday's plenary meeting, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn said, "I have to say that never before, not like this year, have we been presented with so many hazards at the same time." 

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/asean-deeply-disappointed-by-limited-progress-myanmar-peace-plan-2022-08-05/

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