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Chinese Premier Urges Against a “New Cold War” as Concerns Over South China Sea Escalate

Chinese Premier Li Qiang stressed the significance of avoiding a “new Cold War” in dealing with international disputes as world leaders gathered in Indonesia for the annual summit involving ASEAN members and regional powers like China, Japan, and South Korea. In the Indo-Pacific region, geopolitical rivalry is intensifying at the time of the summit.

Li Qiang advised nations to “appropriately handle differences and disputes” and warned against taking sides, bloc conflict, and the resurgence of the Cold War. This stance is in line with the worries of many countries in the area, particularly ASEAN, which has expressed reservations about being involved in conflicts between large powers.

Notably, neither the presidents of the United States nor China attended the meeting; however, the vice president of the United States Kamala Harris did, demonstrating the country’s commitment to the region. According to Harris, “The United States has an enduring commitment to Southeast Asia and, more broadly, to the Indo-Pacific.” She also reaffirmed American pressure on the Myanmar regime to put an end to the “horrific violence” that broke out after a military coup in 2021.

The South China Sea, a major commerce route where several ASEAN nations have territorial claims that conflict with China’s broad claims, was the main topic of discussion at the Jakarta summit. China has been acting with growing assertiveness there. Some ASEAN nations have established close connections with China, while others are still wary. Additionally, the United States has worked to improve ties with ASEAN nations.

ASEAN proposed speeding up talks on a long-discussed code of conduct for the South China Sea during the summit. Retno Marsudi, the foreign minister of Indonesia, emphasized the significance of preserving peace in the area, particularly in the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea. Leaders also expressed “grave concern” at the lack of significant progress on ASEAN’s five-point peace plan for Myanmar, underlining the persistent difficulties in resolving the situation in the nation, in addition to worries about regional security.

President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea vowed to cooperate with Japan and China in order to restart three-way talks as soon as possible in order to improve regional relations. In light of rumors that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un planned to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss providing weapons for the war in Ukraine, Yoon also highlighted the necessity to stop any military collaboration with North Korea.

The Jakarta summit provides a forum for regional leaders to discuss important issues and look for diplomatic solutions to reduce conflicts and maintain stability in the region as geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific continue to escalate.

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