Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the US on Sunday of trying to militarize the Asia-Pacific region as a way to contain China’s influence and limit Moscow’s interests. “The US and its allies, like NATO, want to conquer the region,” said the diplomat dean.
Lavrov was speaking to reporters at the airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, where he was to participate as a guest at a meeting of Asean, the Association of Southeast Asian Countries. China and the US are vying for economic and military influence in the region, and representatives from both countries were also present at the meeting.
From there, many of the leaders head to Bali, Indonesia, where the G20 meeting takes place. US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have a side meeting scheduled for this Monday (14), the first since the Democrat took over the White House.
Biden spoke again this Sunday about the dispute with China. The Southeast Asian leaders said the United States would continue to denounce human rights violations committed by Beijing, but also called for peace in Taiwan, the island that China considers a rebellious province, and guaranteed navigation in the South China Sea.
“The US will compete vigorously [com a China] but keeping lines of communication open and ensuring that competition does not escalate into conflict,” the White House said.
Other messages to Beijing came from Japan’s Prime Minister Fuimio Kishida, who also attended the ASEAN meeting. According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, he told those present that recent actions by Beijing violate his country’s sovereignty.
“There have been continuous and increasing actions by Beijing in the East China Sea that violate our sovereignty, and China continues to put in place measures that increase regional tension in the South China Sea,” Kishida said, according to the diplomacy statement.
He also reportedly highlighted concern for the Uighur Muslim minority, mostly concentrated in China’s Xinjiang region, in the western part of the country. A recent UN report pointed out that China could be committing crimes against humanity with the Uighurs.
International complaints show that the one-party communist regime massively incarcerates Uighurs and seeks to suppress their habits and culture. Beijing, however, denies the accusations, which are hardly brought to international forums due to the influence of China and allies, such as the Russians.
Despite Kishida’s accusations, the prime minister had a side meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, in Cambodia. Li reportedly said China was committed to strengthening political, economic and trade ties with Japan, according to the South China Morning Post.
Another topic that permeated the discussions in the Cambodian capital was the recent missile launches by North Korea. In messages to Beijing, the US, South Korea and Japan, they sought to mobilize China’s national security interests so that the Asian power seeks to contain the escalation promoted by dictator Kim Jong-un.
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