Beijing proposes drills with SE Asia

05 August, 2018, 02:08 | Author: Carlos George
  • US Secretary of State Pompeo calls on Dr Mahathir

Here are the key points which Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan made during the meeting.

The bloc and China hailed progress on Thursday in a long, drawn-out process to negotiate a code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea, one of the world's busiest waterways, where China and some of the bloc's members have conflicting claims.

Hot on the heels of Washington's new economic plan for emerging Asia came reports the United States could more than double planned tariffs on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods from dog food to building materials.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha expressed fears about the negative impact of recent US trade restrictions, while Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi indicated that Beijing will continue to fight the trade war initiated by Washington. "This is a breakthrough for the COC [code of conduct] negotiation".

At a news conference later, Wang said: "We believe that without any disturbances from the outside, COC consultations will accelerate".

Thailand, one of Washington's oldest allies, is another major regional power perceived to have moved closer to China after USA relations came under strain because of concerns about freedoms under its military-dominated government.

Iran has signed a friendship treaty with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in a move which could lead to broader economic cooperation between the Islamic Republic and the organization's member states.

An indoor "table-top" exercise between the two sides has been held in Singapore this week as a prelude to the bigger sea maneuvers, the Chinese premier said.

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The suggestion to exclude outside countries "is obviously targeted at the USA which has been dominating the waters of the Western Pacific and the South China Sea in particular", Hoang Thi Ha, from the ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, told AFP.

Indonesia is expected to table a detailed proposal on the Indo Pacific regional architecture at the East Asia Summit Ministerial Meeting, emphasizing ASEAN centrality and inclusiveness.

The agreement is the first step in solving various territorial disputes in South China Sea.

China has transformed seven disputed reefs into man-made islands replete with three runways, surface-to-air missiles and other weapons systems.

The ministers confirmed that they will speed up negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, by which ASEAN is trying to forge trade partnerships with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Regarding North Korea, Pompeo said pressure on Pyongyang should be maintained as concerns mount about the Kim Jong-un regime's willingness to denuclearise.

"At our meeting in Singapore with Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister of Iran, we discussed bilateral and regional issues", he said.

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