Chinese, Russian FMs boycott Japanese minister’s speech

Published August 6, 2022
PHNOM PENH (Cambodia): Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during talks on the sidelines of the East Asia meeting on Friday.—AFP
PHNOM PENH (Cambodia): Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during talks on the sidelines of the East Asia meeting on Friday.—AFP

PHONM PENH: Tensions over developments around Taiwan spilled into an Asian meeting of foreign ministers on Friday, diverting attention at a gathering that had been expected to focus on efforts to end the crisis in Myanmar.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov walked out of a plenary session just as Japan’s top diplomat, Yoshimasa Hayashi, spoke.

Wang called a rare news conference later, where he accused Blinken of spreading misinformation.

He called Pelosi’s trip a “contemptible farce” and stressed China’s military response to it was “firm, forceful and appropriate”, and handled professionally.

Asked about his walkout, Wang suggested Hayashi may have had a guilty conscience.

“If the Japanese side has some concern about this, then I am afraid the Japanese side should think about whether they have done something very wrong to China,” he said.

“If you have not done anything wrong to China, why are you worried about this?”

Hayashi said he noticed Wang and Lavrov leaving as he spoke.

“In times like this, when the situation is tense, communicating well is important. Japan is always open to dialogue with China,” Hayashi told reporters.

The 10-member Asean issued a communique on Friday that made no mention of Taiwan, but stressed its disappointment at the limited progress made by Myanmar’s military rulers in implementing an Asean-led peace agreement.

Southeast Asia’s Asean Regional Forum included officials from the United States, China, Russia and Japan, but it ended with no new agreements announced and closing statements deferred until Saturday, as Beijing and Washington traded barbs over the Pelosi visit.

Foreign ministers of more than 20 countries joined closed-door roundtable talks in Cambodia as China carried out large-scale military drills, including the launching of live missiles around Taiwan, in response to Pelosi’s trip.

She was the highest-level US visitor in 25 years to the self-governed island, which China regards as its sovereign territory.

“There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a news conference on the sidelines of the Phnom Penh gathering.

“Now, they’ve taken dangerous acts to a new level,” he said, emphasising Washin­gton would not provoke a crisis and would support regional allies.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2022

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