Asean urges ‘maximum restraint’ to keep stability in region, amid China military drills around Taiwan

The bloc's chair Cambodia had called on all sides to de-escalate tensions over Taiwan. PHOTO: REUTERS

PHNOM PENH - Asean on Thursday (Aug 4) called for “maximum restraint” and urged the global community to avoid actions that could destabilise the region, amid China kicking off military drills around Taiwan.

The bloc warned that an increase in volatility could lead to conflict and unpredictable consequences.

It issued a statement on the cross-strait development on Thursday, following a high-level meeting of Asean foreign ministers the day before.

The statement came amid rising tensions after Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi made a visit to Taiwan on Tuesday, where she met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen as part of her visit to the region.

China condemned the visit, calling it a “provocation” by the US.

On Thursday, China launched its largest-ever military drills around Taiwan, after saying earlier that it would conduct such drills following Ms Pelosi’s one-day visit. 

“Asean is concerned with the international and regional volatility, especially in the recent development in the area adjacent to the Asean region, which could destabilise the region and eventually could lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers,” the Asean statement said.

“Asean calls for maximum restraint, refrain from provocative action and for upholding the principles enshrined in United Nations Charter and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in South-east Asia,” it added. 

The 10-member regional grouping urged the global community to cooperate so that nations can coexist peacefully, and said that it is prepared to facilitate discussions so that tensions can be lowered. 

“The world is in dire need of wisdom and responsibility of all leaders to uphold multilateralism and partnership, cooperation, peaceful coexistence and healthy competition for our shared goals of peace, stability, security and inclusive and sustainable development,” it said.

“We should act together and Asean stands ready to play a constructive role in facilitating peaceful dialogue between all parties including through utilising Asean-led mechanisms to de-escalate tension, to safeguard peace, security and development in our region,” the statement added.

Foreign ministers from the group’s member states and their counterparts from the US, China, Russia and other key partners are meeting for Asean-related talks following Wednesday’s 55th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.  

These meetings will take place until Friday.  

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.