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U.S. and Chinese Foreign Ministers Square Off at East Asia Summit

Sept. 10, 2020 (EIRNS)—Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo squared off at the 10th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting with each side blaming the other for the tensions in the South China Sea. The meeting of 18 member states, chaired by Vietnam this year, was held in a video teleconference format because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wang Yi told the summit on Sept. 9 that the United States is becoming the biggest driver of militarization of the South China Sea and the most dangerous factor damaging peace in the area, reported Xinhua. He said that the United States has directly intervened in territorial and maritime disputes in the region out of its own political needs, constantly flaunting its force and strengthening its military deployment. Furthermore, the United States has interfered with the efforts of China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries to resolve disputes through consultation, as well as provoking confrontation between countries in the region. “The United States is becoming the most dangerous factor damaging peace in the South China Sea,” said Wang.

“Peace and stability are China’s greatest strategic interest in the South China Sea,” Wang said, and stating that it is also the common strategic aspiration of China and ASEAN countries. “China hopes that countries outside the region, including the United States, will fully respect the wishes and expectations of countries in the region, instead of creating tension and seeking profit from it.”

A day later, Pompeo told the ASEAN nations that they need to go beyond words and act against China’s “bullying” in the disputed South China Sea, promising America will back them up. “I think keep going, don’t just speak up but act,” Pompeo said without elaborating, reported The Associated Press. A State Department spokeswoman told AP that Pompeo pressed for a peaceful resolution of the disputes. “Reconsider business dealings with the very state-owned companies that bully ASEAN coastal states in the South China Sea. Don’t let the Chinese Communist Party walk over us and our people. You should have confidence and the American people will be here in friendship to help you,” he said.

The East Asia Summit is comprised of the 18 member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—as well as the Indo-Pacific states of Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States.

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