Asean foreign ministers to release a joint statement on Taiwan Strait

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have agreed to release a joint statement following the controversial visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

The ministers are meeting in Phnom Penh at the time when tension in the Taiwan Strait was at its highest level with Pelosi-led US congressional delegation touched down on the self-ruled island. Pelosi is the most senior American lawmaker to visit the island in 25 years.

A draft statement drafted by Cambodia made no specific mention of Pelosi, China or the United States. Instead, it said Asean foreign ministers are “concerned” with the international and regional volatility “especially in the recent development in adjacent with the Asean region.”

This “recent development,” the draft said “could destabilize the region and eventually lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts, and unpredictable consequences among major powers.”

The day after Pelosi arrived in Taipei, China conducted live-fire exercises in the sea and airspace around Taiwan. 

The defense department of Taiwan said China has encroached on its territory, as close as 12 nautical miles from the island. 

In an apparent reference to China and US, the Asean foreign ministers have asked to “exercise maximum restraint, refrain from provocative action and to strictly uphold the principles of non-interference, territorial integrity, and sovereignty enshrined in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC).”

It said Asean countries support the One-China Policy — which China has been espousing in the international community, to ward off attempts by its “renegade province”  Taiwan’s independence bid.

“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,” reads the draft statement entitled “Asean Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Cross Strait Development.”

“We should ACT TOGETHER (caps lock provided) and ASEAN stands ready to play a constructive role in facilitating peaceful dialogue between all parties including through utilizing Asean-led mechanisms to deescalate tension, to safeguard peace, security, and development in our region,” it added.

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