ASEAN Ministers Urge Restraint Amid Taiwan Tensions

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55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian nations pose together at the opening of the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Foreign ministers from Southeast Asia have urged restraint as China conducted large military exercises off Taiwan, expressing concern that the situation could escalate into “open hostilities.”

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers met in Phnom Penh on Tuesday for the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

The bloc yesterday advised against “provocative conduct” as Beijing launched its largest-ever exercises around Taiwan in reaction to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island this week.

The situation “could lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts, and unpredictable consequences among major powers,” the ministers said in a joint statement.

The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, and his US counterpart, Anthony Blinken, are also attending the summit, but they are not expected to hold a one-on-one meeting.

While no ASEAN country formally recognizes Taiwan, the ministers’ statement yesterday avoided referring to Taiwan by name. Instead, it said ASEAN “stands ready to play a constructive role in facilitating peaceful dialogue”, though it is not unclear if either side is interested in external mediation.

Foreign ministers from Russia and Japan also attended the meeting.