Xi Jinping tells Southeast Asian leaders that China does not seek “hegemony”

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Beijing’s territorial claims to the oceans conflict with the territorial claims of several Southeast Asian countries, and aroused warnings from Washington to Tokyo.

But Xi Jinping said that China will never seek hegemony, nor will it use its scale to coerce small countries, and will work with ASEAN to eliminate “interference.”

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

China’s claim to sovereignty over the South China Sea has made it confrontation with ASEAN member countries Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia have also put forward claims on some waters.

The Philippines on Thursday condemned the actions of three Chinese Coast Guard ships, saying that the three ships intercepted and used water cannons on their supply ships heading for the Philippines-occupied offshore atolls.

The United States called China’s actions “dangerous, provocative and unreasonable” on Friday, and warned that armed attacks on Philippine ships would invoke the United States’ commitment to common defense.

Analysis: The long arm of China's new maritime law risks triggering conflicts between the United States and Japan

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said at a summit hosted by Xi Jinping that he “hates” such quarrels and said that the rule of law is the only way to resolve disputes. He mentioned the 2016 international arbitration award, which held that China’s maritime claims had no legal basis.

“This does not describe the relationship between our two countries very well,” said Duterte, who will step down next year and has been criticized in the past for failing to condemn China’s actions in disputed waters.

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

Myanmar did not show up

At the summit, Xi Jinping stated that China and ASEAN “freed the haze of the Cold War” — the region was devastated by superpower competition and conflicts such as the Vietnam War — and jointly maintained regional stability.

When Washington engages with its regional allies to counter Beijing’s growing military and economic influence, China often criticizes the United States’ “Cold War mentality”.

US President Joe Biden participated in a virtual summit with ASEAN leaders in October and promised to have more contacts with the region.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Monday that the summit was held without a representative of Myanmar. The reason for not attending immediately is not clear, and a spokesperson for the Myanmar military government did not answer a call seeking comment.

Since seizing power on February 1, Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Lay led a bloody suppression of dissidents at a virtual summit for failing to make progress in implementing the agreed peace plan, which is an unprecedented exclusion of the EU .

Myanmar refused to send junior representatives and accused ASEAN of deviating from its principle of non-interference and succumbing to Western pressure.

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

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