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South-east Asian countries call for calm in Taiwan Strait after Pelosi visit
4 August 2022, 06:44
Nancy Pelosi was the first speaker of the US House of Representatives to visit the island in more than 25 years.
A group of 10 south-east Asian countries has called for calm in the Taiwan Strait as it urged against any “provocative action” in the wake of a visit to Taipei by US House speaker Nancy Pelosi that has infuriated Beijing.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) foreign ministers meeting in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh said they were concerned the situation could “destabilise the region and eventually could lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers”.
It was a rare such statement from the 10-nation group, some of whose members drift more toward China in allegiance and some toward the United States.
Both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi were taking part in the ongoing Asean meetings in Phnom Penh on Thursday and Friday.
Ms Pelosi received a euphoric welcome as the first US House speaker, and highest ranking US official, to visit Taiwan in more than 25 years, and China swiftly responded by announcing multiple military exercises nearby.
China claims the self-governing island of Taiwan as its territory and opposes any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments.
Beijing has accused the US of breaking the status quo with the Pelosi visit, while Washington insists there has been no change to its “one-China” position of recognising the government in Beijing while allowing for informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.
On the other side, with China’s recent increase in military activities around Taiwan, Washington accuses Beijing of no longer accepting the status quo.
Shortly after Pelosi landed Tuesday night, China announced live-fire drills that reportedly started that night, as well as the four-day exercises starting Thursday. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force also flew a contingent of 21 warplanes toward Taiwan.
Meantime, the US has an aircraft carrier group and other naval assets in the region.
In their statement, the Asean foreign ministers called for “maximum restraint” and for all sides to “refrain from provocative action”.
“The world is in dire need of wisdom and responsibility of all leaders to uphold multilateralism and partnership, cooperation, peaceful-coexistence and healthy competition for our shared goals of peace, stability, security and inclusive and sustainable development,” they said.
“We should act together and Asean stands ready to play a constructive role in facilitating peaceful dialogue between all parties including through utilising Asean-led mechanisms to deescalate tension, to safeguard peace, security and development in our region.”
Asean comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.