Xi tells Southeast Asian leaders China does not seek ‘hegemony’

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Beijing’s territorial claims over maritime conflicts with several Southeast Asian nations have heightened the threat from Washington to Tokyo.

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But Xi said China would never seek hegemony or take advantage of its size to coerce smaller countries, and would work with ASEAN to eliminate “interference”.

“China was, and will always be, a good neighbour, a good friend and a good partner of ASEAN,” Chinese state media quoted Xi as saying.

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China’s claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea pits it against ASEAN members Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia have also claimed parts.

The Philippines on Thursday condemned the actions of three Chinese Coast Guard ships that said water cannons were used at sea on boats headed for a Philippine-occupied atoll.

The United States on Friday called Chinese actions “dangerous, provocative and unfair” and warned that an armed attack on Philippine ships would stifle US mutual defense commitments.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told a summit hosted by Xi that he “disgusted” the dispute and said the rule of law is the only way out of the dispute. He cited a 2016 international arbitration ruling that found China’s maritime claim on the sea had no legal basis.

“It does not speak well of relations between our countries,” said Duterte, who will step down next year and has been criticized in the past for failing to condemn China’s conduct in disputed waters.

ASEAN Group Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

myanmar no show

Xi told the summit that China and ASEAN had “removed the gloom of the Cold War” – when the region was ravaged by conflicts such as superpower competition and the Vietnam War – and jointly maintained regional stability.

China often criticizes the United States for its “cold war thinking” when Washington engages its regional allies to push back against Beijing’s growing military and economic influence.

US President Joe Biden joined ASEAN leaders for a virtual summit in October and promised greater engagement with the region.

Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Monday that the summit was held without a representative from Myanmar. The reason for the non-attendance was not immediately clear, and a spokesman for Myanmar’s military government did not respond to calls seeking comment.

ASEAN sidelined Myanmar’s junta leader Min Aung Huling, who has led a bloody crackdown on dissent since seizing power on February 1, from a virtual summit last month, in implementing an agreed peace plan. On its failure, in an unprecedented boycott for the block.

Myanmar refused to send junior representations and blamed ASEAN for withdrawing from its non-intervention principle and succumbing to Western pressure.

According to diplomatic sources, China lobbied Min to attend the summit.

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Credit : www.cnn.com

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