The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a joint statement urging the US and China to ease tensions around Taiwan after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the island sparked massive Chinese military drills in the region.
“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 Southeast Asia,” ASEAN foreign ministers said on Wednesday.
The 10 Southeast Asian nations that make up the ASEAN bloc have found themselves in between two powers as the US has been pushing them to join Washington’s campaign against Beijing in the region. The US has struggled to recruit regional countries for this effort as most are hesitant to pick a side.
“We should act together 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,” the ministers said.
The ASEAN is currently hosting events in Cambodia that are being attended by US and Chinese officials. In a sign of the heightened tensions, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly left a gala dinner in Phnom Penh on Thursday that was attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Wang has said that he has no plans to meet with Blinken while in Cambodia.
ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The 10 countries could face major consequences if a war breaks out over Taiwan.
The ASEAN ministers said that if the current tensions continue, it could destabilize the region and “eventually could lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers.”