Southeast Asian country don’t want to be stuck in competition of major countries, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said last weekend after the conclusion of ASEAN foreign ministers’ meetings.
|Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh speaks at an international press meeting on September 12. Photo: Minh Tuan|
Mr. Minh acknowledged that competition of major powers is present and is discussed in many fora across the world. “It’s obvious that this is seen in Southeast Asia – a strategic geographic area.”
The issue was mentioned at the recently-concluded East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum where topics of strategic nature are discussed.
In a statement on the 53rd anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN, ASEAN foreign ministers noted growing uncertainties resulting from the changing geo-political dynamics in the regional and global landscape, and reiterate their commitment to maintaining Southeast Asia as a region of peace, security, neutrality and stability, and strengthening peace-oriented values in the region in line with international law.
They also committed to strengthening ASEAN Centrality and encourage the constructive engagement of ASEAN’s external partners, through ASEAN-led mechanisms such as the EAS, ARF and ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), in building mutual trust and confidence as well.
“ASEAN countries want all countries around the world and those in the region to make constructive contributions, supporting and promoting peace and stability of Southeast Asia,” Vietnam’s top diplomat noted.
The tensions overshadowed the ARF, a political and security forum between ASEAN foreign ministers and 27 partners, on Wednesday.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the ASEAN ministers that the United States was interfering in the South China Sea and was driving its militarization.
Meanwhile, in a separate virtual meeting a day later, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Southeast Asian countries to review ties with Chinese state-owned enterprises amid territorial disputes in the sea.
Washington recently announced sanctions on 24 Chinese entities involved in building artificial islands in disputed waters and installing missile systems on them.
A joint statement released late on Thursday said “Concerns were expressed by some Ministers on the land reclamations, activities, and serious incidents in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions, and may undermine peace, security, and stability in the region.”