On Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Asian Nations should avoid being used as “chess pieces” by global powers in a region that is being reshaped by geopolitical factors.
In a speech given to the secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta,
Many countries in the region, according to Wang, are under pressure to take sides.
“We must protect this region from geopolitical calculations… from being used as chess pieces in major power rivalry and coercion,” Wang said through a translator.
“Our region’s future should be in our own hands,” he said.
Southeast Asia has long been a source of contention between powers due to its strategic importance, with countries in the region now wary of becoming embroiled in the US-China rivalry.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its territory, citing what it claims are historical maps, putting it at odds with some ASEAN countries, who say the claims are illegal under international law.
Wang’s speech comes just days after he attended a G20 meeting of foreign ministers in Bali, amid intense Chinese diplomacy that has seen him make a string of stops across the region in recent weeks.
Wang met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for five hours on the sidelines of the G20, and both described their first in-person talks since October as “candid.”
Wang mentioned on Monday that he told Blinken that both parties should discuss the establishment of rules for positive interactions and jointly uphold Asia-Pacific regionalism.
“The core elements are to support ASEAN centrality, uphold the existing regional corporation framework, and respect each other’s legitimate rights and interests in the Asia-Pacific, instead of attempting to distress or contain the oppo” Wang said.
In response to a question about Taiwan after his speech, Wang stated that Washington is “trying to play the Taiwan card to disrupt and contain China’s development by distorting and hollowing out the One China policy.”
Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have risen in recent months, as China’s military has conducted multiple air missions over the Taiwan Strait, the waterway that separates the island from China.
China regards Taiwan as a “sacred” territory and has never renounced the use of force to seize control of the island.
Taiwan claims to want peace, but only its people can decide its fate.
Washington maintains its commitment to its One China policy and does not support Taiwanese independence.
However, under the US-Taiwan Relations Act, the US must provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.
“The two sides across the (Taiwan) Strait will develop peacefully.” “However, if the one-China principle is arbitrarily challenged or even sabotaged, there will be dark clouds or ferocious storms, across the strait,” Wang warned.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry called Wang’s remarks “absurd,” saying it strongly condemned them.
“Taiwan is at the forefront of resisting authoritarian expansion and will not succumb to Chinese government threats of force,” ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said.