China emphasizes ties with Southeast Asia to meet in Cambodia

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (UKTN) — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi highlighted his country’s efforts to strengthen ties with Southeast Asian countries during a meeting Thursday with their foreign ministers, which took place as Beijing pushed its influence into wanted to expand the region.

Wang’s talks with top diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were held amid high tensions in the region following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which has infuriated Beijing.

The group issued a strong statement earlier in the day, urging both the US and China to show “maximum restraint” in the wake of the visit and to “refrain from provocative action”.

China claims the self-governing island of Taiwan as its territory and opposes any involvement of Taiwanese officials with foreign governments.

In his opening remarks, Wang did not mention the situation, but emphasized how China and ASEAN countries have strengthened cooperation in recent years.

“We have secured the oasis of calm in the face of the turbulence in the international security situation,” he said.

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ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

China has become one of the largest lenders to developing countries through its Belt and Road Initiative to expand trade by building ports, railways and other infrastructure in Asia, Africa and the Middle East to Europe.

This has led to accusations that Beijing is using debt to gain political influence, but Chinese officials deny it.

At the meetings in Phnom Penh, Wang pledged that China will continue to “strive to promote high-quality development, build a new pattern of development, provide greater momentum for regional and global economic recovery and development, and bring more development opportunities to ASEAN.” -to land.”

Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia, the host of this year’s ASEAN rallies and one of the most pro-Chinese countries of the group, met Wang on Wednesday.

During the meeting with Hun Sen, Wang reiterated that “China is ready to cooperate with Cambodia to protect their respective sovereignty, security and development interests,” China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

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The report did not provide more details, but China and Cambodia took the first steps in June on a naval port expansion project, which has raised concerns among the US and others that Beijing is becoming a strategically important military outpost on the Gulf. of Thailand could give.

Hun Sen reportedly granted China the right to set up a military base at the Ream naval base in 2019, but has long denied it, saying Cambodia’s constitution prohibits foreign military facilities.

The US sanctioned two senior Cambodian defense officials in November over charges of corruption related to construction financing at the Ream base, and China has accused Washington of conducting a smear campaign.

In his meeting with Wang, Xinhua reported that Hun Sen said an “iron” friendship had developed, which “enjoyed fruitful results from the joint construction of the Belt and Road, which has brought enormous benefits to their peoples.”

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Both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Secretary of State Sergey Lavrov would hold separate meetings with the ASEAN group later in the day.

In a separate meeting with ASEAN ministers, which brought Wang together with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin and Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa, Yoshimasa stressed that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had far-reaching consequences beyond Europe, leading to he said it would be even harder for economies to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has led to many challenges, including rising prices of energy, food and other commodities, as well as supply chain disruptions,” he said. “I think now is the time to address these challenges in a coordinated way, and it is even more important to maintain and strengthen the free and open international order based on the rule of law.”

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