Over the past week as Japan intensified preparations for the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, ASEAN leaders met for their Summit under Indonesian Presidency. While Philippine President at the Summit raised concerns over South China Sea developments, Singapore PM described ASEAN as a factor of stability. Indonesian President, however, rued lack of progress over the Myanmar situation. Meanwhile, top officials of USA and China met in what could usher in stability in East and SE Asia amid observations by a former Chinese army officer that S China Sea region is dangerous compared to Taiwan Straits. Chinese Foreign Minister is planning a visit to Japan to stabilize ties.
Japan hopes G-7 leaders show “strong” resolve to defend int’l order
Kyodo News | 11th May 2023
Japan is poised to showcase with other Group of Seven advanced nations their “strong determination” to defend the international rules-based order during their summit starting next week, in a pushback to Russia and China, who are seen to be posing challenges to global peace and stability. Strengthening ties with emerging and developing countries known collectively as the “Global South” — such as by addressing concerns over food and energy security, public health and climate change — will also be on the agenda, the government said Thursday as it announced its priorities for the three-day summit from May 19 in Hiroshima, western Japan. “The international community is now at a historic inflection point, having experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and being faced with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which has shaken the very foundation of the international order,” the Foreign Ministry said.
US, China pledge to maintain communication as two top officials meet
The Strait Times | 12th May 2023
The Biden administration’s top security adviser met with China’s top diplomat this week and pledged to keep lines of communication open, the White House said on Thursday, in one of the countries’ first high-level meetings since a dispute over an alleged Chinese spy balloon dented relations in February. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi met in Vienna on Wednesday and Thursday, and discussed Russia’s war on Ukraine, among other issues, the White House said in a statement.
Asean a ‘life raft’ for region’s countries in a more troubled world, says PM Lee
The Strait Times | 11th May 2023
In an increasingly troubled world, the Asean grouping remains a life raft for its members, which can steer the region’s affairs when they pull together, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Touching on the concept of Asean centrality, he stressed that the bloc’s 10 members must be unified and cohesive. The concept refers to the regional grouping being in the driver’s seat and shaping key outcomes affecting South-east Asia, instead of having the region’s fortunes determined by external parties. “We need Asean to be unified, to be cohesive, to be effective, to be central. If you’re not all of the above, you will not be central,” said PM Lee on Thursday
Indonesia accepts lack of progress in Myanmar peace plan, but asks Asean to stay united on issue
The Strait Times | 11th May 2023
Indonesian President Joko Widodo had strong words for those who criticised the lack of progress in implementing a peace plan undertaken by Asean to resolve the Myanmar crisis. Indonesia, the rotating chair of the regional bloc, said it had adopted a quiet “non-megaphone” policy in trying to end the violence in Myanmar. It made more than 60 engagements with various stakeholders, but detractors have lamented the slow progress and demanded stiffer action against Myanmar’s military regime. “Engagement does not mean recognition, which was why I had conveyed at the Asean meeting that Asean unity is very important. Without unity, it is easy for other parties to divide Asean, and I am sure that no Asean country wants that,” he said at a media conference on Thursday to close the two-day Asean Summit in Labuan Bajo, in East Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia.
Bongbong Marcos back from Asean summit
The Philippines Inquirer | 11th May 2023
President Marcos returned to Manila from Indonesia on Thursday after his trip to Labuan Bajo for the 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit, his 13th foreign trip since June last year. The PR001, carrying the President and the Philippine delegation landed at the Villamor Air Base at 5:58 p.m. In his arrival speech, Mr. Marcos said he told Asean leaders about Manila’s concern on regional and international developments, which include the maritime dispute in the South China Sea. According to him, he raised the issue of maritime disputes in the region and “reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes and advocated for a rules-based maritime order anchored on 1982 Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).” He said other matters raised during the summit were the Russia-Ukraine war, the turmoil in Myanmar, the East Asean Growth Area and the membership of Timor-Leste, which was an observer in the summit.
South China Sea — not Taiwan — more likely spark of U.S.-China conflict, former Chinese colonel says
The Japan Times | 11th May 2023
While attention has largely focused on the Taiwan Strait as the most likely place for a U.S.-China war to erupt, the spark for conflict could be lit somewhere else entirely, a Chinese military insider has warned. With dangerously close encounters at sea and in the air on the rise, a conflict is more likely to be triggered by an accident or miscalculation in the increasingly militarized South China Sea, said Zhou Bo, a former senior colonel in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Chinese foreign minister conveys willingness to visit Japan
The Japan Times | 11th May 2023
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Japanese counterpart, Yoshimasa Hayashi, during their meeting in Beijing in April that he is willing to visit Japan, a source familiar with bilateral relations said Wednesday. The two Asian neighbors have been exploring the possibility of a trip by Qin to Japan later this year, as 2023 marks the 45th anniversary of the signing of the 1978 bilateral Peace and Friendship Treaty, the source said. Tokyo and Beijing are also considering resuming a bilateral high-level economic dialogue, last held in 2019, on the occasion of Qin’s visit, the source added.