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US urges Southeast Asia to shun South China Sea firms

Agence France-Presse
US urges Southeast Asia to shun South China Sea firms
Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (L) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C, on screen at R) are seen on monitor screens during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-US Ministerial Meeting, held online due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic, in Hanoi on September 10, 2020. China accused the US of becoming "the biggest driver of militarization" in the contested South China Sea, as tensions between Washington and Beijing look set to swamp a regional Asian summit.
AFP / Nhac NGUYEN

HANOI, Vietnam — Washington's top diplomat urged Southeast Asia on Thursday to cut ties with Chinese companies helping build islands in the South China Sea, weeks after the US blacklisted two dozen firms working in the disputed waters.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's comments came at a regional Asian summit overshadowed by the US-China rivalry over a range of issues, from trade to the coronavirus.

Tensions are also simmering over the South China Sea, with the US last month sanctioning 24 Chinese state-owned companies it said had helped Beijing's military buildup in the resource-rich waterway.

Pompeo said it was time for Southeast Asian governments to reconsider their own relationship with firms working in the sea.

"Don't just speak up, but act," he told the 10 foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during an online summit.

"Reconsider business dealings with the very state-owned companies that bully ASEAN coastal states in the South China Sea. 

"Don't let the Chinese Communist party walk over us and our people."

This year's ASEAN summit comes days after Beijing launched ballistic missiles in the South China Sea as part of live-fire exercises.

Vietnam, which is chairing the summit, expressed "serious concern" about recent militarisation of the sea.

"This has eroded trust and confidence, increased tension and undermined peace, security and rule of law in the region," said Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.

But the Philippines already said last week it would not follow the US lead because it needed Chinese investment, even as a fresh dispute between the two nations over Scarborough Shoal -- one of the region's richest fishing grounds -- hangs over the talks.

And Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi laid blame on the United States for tensions, claiming Washington was "becoming the biggest driver" of the waterway's militarisation.

Contested waters

China claims the majority of the South China Sea, invoking its so-called nine-dash line to justify what it says are historic rights to the key trade waterway.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all contest parts of China's declared territory in the sea.

Tensions between the US and China have also been exacerbated by concerns over Hong Kong, where Beijing recently imposed a draconian national security law in response to months of civil unrest last year.

Pompeo "joined several countries in raising concerns over... the arrests of pro-democracy students, the year-long postponement of elections, and disqualification of pro-democracy electoral candidates," according to spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

ASEAN

ASEAN SUMMIT

CHINA

MIKE POMPEO

SOUTH CHINA SEA

UNITED STATES

WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 26, 2022 - 1:48pm

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

November 26, 2022 - 1:48pm

Palawan Rep. Edward Hagedorn files a bill declaring 3 nautical miles surrounding the Kalayaan Island Group and Scarborough Shoal in West Philippine Sea as marine protected area. — The STAR/Sheila Crisostomo

November 22, 2022 - 7:03pm

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos says the country will ask Beijing to explain its "more benign" account of an incident involving Chinese coastguard taking rocket debris from Filipino soldiers in disputed waters. 

A senior Filipino navy official on Monday accused the Chinese coastguard of "forcefully" seizing parts of a rocket fairing that landed in the waters of the Spratly Islands in the hotly contested South China Sea. 

Beijing insisted the handover took place after "friendly consultation". — AFP

February 28, 2022 - 10:29am

Around 68 foreign vessels were near Julian Felipe Reef and 39 near Union Banks on February 17, satellite image show.

Liz Derr, CEO of the geospatial data provider Simularity, says this at a Stratebase ADR-hosted conference.

In March 2021, over 200 Chinese vessels were sighted near the reef.  — report from News5/Marianne Enriquez

November 22, 2021 - 3:54pm

President Rodrigo Duterte condemns the latest flare-up in the disputed South China Sea after Chinese coastguard ships fired water cannon at Filipino boats. 

"We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments," Duterte tells the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China, using the Filipino name for the shoal. 

"This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership." — AFP

November 22, 2021 - 8:41am

The European Union expresses "strong opposition" against China's unilateral actions in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

This statement comes after Chinese coast guard ships blocked and water cannoned Philippine boats transporting supplies to military personnel stationed at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

"In this context, the European Union recalls the Arbitration Award rendered under UNCLOS on 12 July 2016, which found that Second Thomas Shoal lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf," the EU says in a statement.

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