Fri, 29 Sep 2023

Beijing [China], November 22 (ANI): China-ASEAN virtual summit that started on Monday was held without a representative from Myanmar, according to Malaysia's Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) excluding Myanmar had agreed with China that Myanmar's envoy to Beijing would attend, Channel News Asia (CNA) quoted Saifuddin Abdullah as saying.

Myanmar authorities had no immediate comment on the no-show and a spokesman could not immediately be reached, the broadcaster said.

ASEAN side-lined Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, who has led a bloody crackdown on dissent since seizing power on February 1, from virtual summits in October over his failure to make inroads in implementing an agreed peace plan, in an unprecedented exclusion for the bloc, reported CNA.

Myanmar refused to send junior representation and blamed ASEAN for departing from its non-interference principle and caving to Western pressure.

China lobbied for Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing to attend the summit, according to diplomatic sources, reported CNA.

The China-ASEAN virtual summit was held to celebrate 30 years of dialogue, would help regional peace, stability and development, said Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to Chinese state media.

At the summit, Xi reportedly told ASEAN leaders that Beijing would not coerce its smaller regional neighbours, reported CNA.

China would never seek hegemony nor take advantage of its size to "bully" smaller countries, and would work with ASEAN to eliminate "interference", Xi said.

"China was, is, and will always be a good neighbour, good friend, and good partner of ASEAN," state media quoted Xi as saying.

Meanwhile, China's assertion of sovereignty over the South China Sea has set it against ASEAN members Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts.

The Philippines on Thursday condemned "in strongest terms" the actions of three Chinese coast guard vessels that it said blocked and used water cannon on resupply boats headed towards a Philippine-occupied atoll in the South China Sea, reported CNA.

The US on Friday called the Chinese actions "dangerous, provocative, and unjustified", and warned that an armed attack on Philippine vessels would invoke US mutual defence commitments.

"The United States strongly believes that PRC actions asserting its expansive and unlawful South China Sea maritime claims undermine peace and security in the region," State Department spokesman Ned Price said, using the initials for the People's Republic of China.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told the summit hosted by Xi that he "abhors" the altercation and said the rule of law was the only way out of the dispute, reported CNA.

"This does not speak well of the relations between our nations," Duterte said. (ANI)

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