Wang Yi, the foreign minister of China, stated on Monday
that nations should resist being manipulated as “chess pieces” by world powers in a region that he claimed was susceptible to geopolitical influences reshaping it.
In an address given to the Asean secretariat in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, Wang said that many of the region’s nations were being pressured to pick a side.
Wang, who was addressing through a translator, added, “We should protect this region from geopolitical calculations… from being utilised as chess pieces from big power competition and from coercion.”
“Our region’s future should be in our own hands,” he declared.
Due to its strategic importance, Southeast Asia has traditionally been a source of tension between major powers, and countries in the region are increasingly fearful of becoming embroiled in the US-China conflict.
Based on what it claims are historical charts, China claims practically the entire South China Sea as its territory, which puts it at odds with other Asean nations who assert that the claims are illegal under international law.
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Wang’s address comes in the midst of aggressive Chinese diplomacy, which has seen him make a series of stops across the region in recent weeks. He recently attended a G20 conference of foreign ministers in Bali.
Wang met with US State Secretary Antony Blinken for five hours outside the G20, and both men described their first face-to-face conversations since October as “candid.”
Wang claimed that on Monday he had advised Blinken that the two should talk about establishing guidelines for friendly exchanges and working together to support Asia-Pacific regionalism.
The key components, according to Wang, are to defend the current regional corporation framework, support Asean centrality, and respect one another’s legitimate rights and interests in the Asia-Pacific region rather than trying to stifle or antagonise the other party.
After his address, when asked about Taiwan, Wang claimed that Washington was “trying to play the Taiwan card to disrupt and control China’s development by misrepresenting and hollowing out the One China policy.”
As China’s military repeatedly conducted air flights over the Taiwan Strait, the waterway separating the island from China, tensions between Beijing and Taipei have risen recently.
Taiwan is seen by China as their “sacred” territory, and it has never renounced using force to annex the island. Taiwan claims to seek peace, but only the people have the power to determine their future.
Although Washington claims to be dedicated to its One China policy and does not support Taiwanese independence, the US Taiwan Relations Act requires the US to give Taiwan the tools to defend itself.
“The (Taiwan Strait) will see peaceful development on both sides. However, there will be dark clouds or even violent storms over the strait when the one-China principle is arbitrarily contested or even sabotaged “added Wang.
The foreign ministry of Taiwan called Wang’s remarks “absurd” and strongly criticised them.”
Taiwan is a leader in the fight against authoritarian growth and has stated that it will not buckle under Chinese government threats of violence, according to ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou.