US, Japan express concern over South China Sea, resume nuclear weapons from China
The United States and Japan have expressed concerns about the situation in the South China Sea, where China has aggressively asserted its territorial claims, and raised the issue of Beijing’s nuclear weapons in discussions with the United States. ASEAN and partner countries Friday.
Speaking at the foreign ministerial meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, one of the few forums for international security dialogue in which North Korea participates, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined to other countries to call for the denuclearization of Pyongyang while urging members of the ARF to pressure the Burmese junta to end its violence against the people, according to the State Department.
Photo taken on August 6, 2021, shows an online ministerial conference of the ASEAN Regional Forum. (Photo courtesy of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs) (Kyodo)
The ARF 27-member meeting, which also includes countries such as China and South Korea, was held as part of this week’s series of virtual meetings related to the Association of Nations of the ‘South East Asia. Brunei is chairing ASEAN this year.
Continuing tensions between the United States and China cast a shadow over the event, Blinken calling on Beijing to “cease its provocative behavior in the South China Sea” and expressing “serious concerns” over its alleged human rights violations. man against the Uyghur Muslim minority in western Xinjiang. region as well as in Hong Kong and Tibet.
The senior US diplomat also expressed his “deep concern” over the rapid growth of China’s nuclear arsenal, saying this highlights how Beijing has “deviated sharply from its decades-old nuclear strategy. based on minimal deterrence, “according to the State Department.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told the meeting that he wanted to encourage China, as well as other countries, to assume the responsibilities of a nuclear-weapon state, citing an agreement between the states- United and Russia earlier this year to extend the last remaining treaty. cap their nuclear arsenals.
He called on Beijing to “engage in bilateral dialogue with the United States on arms control,” according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Regarding the situation in the East and South China Seas, Motegi said unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force “continue and intensify” in the waters, in a veiled criticism of the claim. from Beijing there.
“Japan strongly opposes it,” Motegi said in the ministry’s press release.
Beijing has frequently sent official ships into the waters around the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in an attempt to claim them. He also built man-made islands with military infrastructure in the South China Sea, claiming sovereignty over almost the entire maritime area.
China has conflicting territorial claims with four of ASEAN’s 10 members – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam – as well as with Taiwan in the South China Sea.
Combined photo shows Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (L) and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. (Kyodo)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that “interference from countries outside the region is the greatest threat to peace and stability” in the South China Sea, and that the abuse of “freedom of navigation Should be fought by nations in the region, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
American warships have carried out freedom of navigation operations there with the apparent aim of countering Chinese claims and actions at sea, a strategic waterway through which more than a third of world trade passes.
On the North Korean nuclear issue, Motegi expressed Japan’s “strong hope” for a resumption of dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang and stressed that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga remains ready to meet directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong. One without any preconditions, according to the Japanese statement. ministry.
In response, participants stressed the importance of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, a indicated the ministry.
But Wang called for an easing of sanctions against North Korea to seek a breakthrough on the issue, and expressed his opposition to joint military exercises scheduled to take place between the United States and South Korea later this month. this.
The exercises “are not a constructive step under the current circumstances,” Wang said, quoted by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
It has also dealt a veiled blow to the United States as it continues its engagement with countries in Southeast Asia as a way to bolster international support to counter China’s rise to power.
“There should no longer be any ‘speakers’ or ‘saviors’. The fate of each country should be in the hands of these countries themselves, and the future of the region should be jointly created by all the countries in the region, ”Wang said.
On the current situation in Myanmar, Motegi expressed serious concerns and welcomed the appointment of Brunei’s second foreign minister, Erywan Yusof, as special envoy to the country, tasked with facilitating dialogue between military leaders and their opponents after the February 1 coup.
Japan fully supports the envoy’s activities and hopes that they will lead to the start of a dialogue between the parties concerned and other short-term developments, Motegi said.
The ARF includes the 10 ASEAN states as well as China, Japan, United States, Russia, North and South Korea, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand , Canada, European Union, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, East Timor, Mongolia. and Sri Lanka.
According to a source from Southeast Asian countries, North Korea was represented by its ambassador to Indonesia rather than its foreign minister at the ARF meeting.