By Annabelle Liang and Elaine Kurtenbach | AP November 15 at 2:57 PM SINGAPORE – USA and China offered rival…
SINGAPORE – USA and China offered rival visions for the Asia Pacific on Thursday at a summit in Southeast Asian Nations whose economies and strategic interests are deeply joined by both forces, with Vice President Mike Pence says there was no room for “empire or aggression” in the region.
Pence stressed the “firm and lasting” US involvement in the Indo-Pacific region when he met with the leadership of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations at its annual summit in Singapore.
“Our vision for the Indo-Pacific region does not rule out a nation. It only requires every nation to treat its neighbors with respect, respect the sovereignty of our nations and the international rules of order,” said Pence in a blow to China’s growing influence and military expansion in the South China Sea.
He faces President Donald Trump at the ASEAN meeting and another summit later in the week in Papua New Guinea.
The ASEAN meetings focus on increased trade and security in a region of more than 630 million people.
In Singapore China’s prime minister Li Keqiang has tried to calm China’s neighbors over its growing range, both economic and military, across the region.
In a separate meeting with the ASEAN leaders, he urged them to help secure world markets governed by US trade policy, which has resulted in the introduction of USD billion penalty payments of Chinese products, among other measures.
Southeast Asian countries and others in the region sh are China’s concern over the Trump Administration’s rejection of multilateral trading systems and the global trading system that has helped them to modernize and enrich their economies. Many of the leaders who attended the meetings in Singapore have stressed the need to combat protectionism and protect the rules that help govern global trade.
The region must “take concrete steps to maintain the rules-based free trade regime and send a message ̵
1; a positive message – to the market to provide stable predictable and law-based conditions for the market,” says Li.
Handling conflicts in the South China Sea is China is crushing its smaller neighbors in several disputes in the ocean over coral reefs and lagoons in waters that are crucial to global trade and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.
The region is a potential flash point and a large concern for the United States and other countries relying on the right to transit.
ASEAN leaders said they discussed the need for restraint in the area.
“We all agreed ways and means not to increase tension in southern China Sea. And that means not taking in warships and allowing freedom to navigate, “said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed to journalists. “Small patrol boats are needed to deal with piracy, primarily but large warships can cause incidents and it leads to excitement.”
Asked about the United States reaction, committed by treaty to defend Allies in the region, He said, “Mr. Pence sounds quite reasonable and he says President Trump is concerned about the situation.”
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte , who has relaxed his country’s position on Chinese claims to islands, also argued by Manila that it was also crucial that the countries concerned end work on a “code of conduct” to prevent misunderstandings that could lead to conflicts.
“China is there. That’s the reality,” he told reporters before joining tomorrow’s meetings. “Strong military activity will lead to a response from China. I do not care that everyone is in war, but except that the Philippines is right on these islands. If there’s a shot there, my country will be the first to suffer.”
Thursday’s meetings followed many bilateral meetings between leaders and talks on other issues such as environmental considerations, disaster management mechanisms and the crisis over hundreds of thousands of ethnic rohingy Muslims who fled to Bangladesh to flee from violence in Myanmar.
When the collection focused on cooperation and goodwill, concern about Myanmar’s treatment of its ethnic Rohingya Muslims with unusually sharp public comments by Pence and Mahathir to the country’s leader, Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
More than 700,000 Rohingya has fled from Western Myanmar’s Rakhine state to avoid murder and destruction of its homes by the country’s military and vigilantes, widespread condemnation and international charges of genocide against Myanmar.
Question about Suu Kyi had agreed on his direct claim that she forfeited two Reuters journalists imprisoned in Myanmar, Pence replied: “We did not get a clear answer.” He said that Suu Kyi had given some details about the appeal process and the legal handling of his cases.
ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Its annual summit includes meetings with different other nations.
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