The crisis unleashed in the Taiwan Strait has accentuated the strong division of the international community into two blocks, one led by the United States and the other by China and Russia, something that has been revealed in the meeting of ministers from Southeast Asia that ends this Friday in Phnom Penh.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held its meeting of foreign ministers in Phnom Penh, in which representatives of the United States, Russia and China, among others, also participated, at a time of political and military tension in the area after the visit this week to Taiwan by the president of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
During the meetings, the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, showed signs of their harmony and at the same time the growing distance that separates them from the United States, the European Union (EU ), Australia or Japan.
“We are the largest States, we are neighbors and we share an old and diversified association. We are for a multipolar world and against any hegemony”, Wang said in the Cambodian capital in reference to the relationship with Russia, according to the Tass agency, while Lavrov praised the “strategic relationshipbetween both powers.
In addition to the coincidence of opinions, both made clear their personal closeness with gestures of complicity, such as the pat that the Chinese Foreign Minister gave his Russian counterpart on the shoulder when entering one of the day’s meetings.
After that friendly gesture, both exchanged greetings with their hands, something unusual in this type of event and even more so in the one that concluded this Friday in Phnom Penh, where the tension between the two blocs and even the personal antipathy between their representatives felt in the environment.
The good relationship with Lavrov contrasts with Wang’s tense attitude throughout the summit as a result of the crisis unleashed in Taiwan after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The decision of the influential US politician infuriated China, which responded with sanctions and live-fire military maneuvers that have multiplied calls to reduce tension and cross accusations between the two blocs.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense denounced that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ships and warplanes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Friday, which functions as an unofficial border but is tacitly respected by China and Taiwan, the island. self-governed state whose sovereignty Beijing claims.
After the condemnation of the G7 to the maneuvers, the Chinese foreign minister canceled the meeting that he had scheduled for Thursday with his Japanese counterpart, as Japan belongs to this exclusive group of seven powers.
In the evening, Wang arrived at the gala dinner to which all the ministers were invited and left after a few minutes without sitting down or explaining the reasons for his hasty departure.
The Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, also present in Phnom Penh, described today as “provocateurs” the military exercises and stressed that “there is no justification for this extreme and disproportionate response” from China.
In a similar vein, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said in reference to the military maneuvers that “no one can change the status quo unilaterally, and even less so by resorting to force”, while making an appeal “to avoid an escalation of tension that could produce more serious situations.
While some Southeast Asian countries tried to temporize, Lavrov was the only one to show his clear support for China in this crisis, for which he blamed the United States, as well as Ukraine, accusing Washington of “turn Ukraine into a threat” for Russia.
The tension over the conflict in Ukraine gave rise to another of the event’s rudenesses, when the Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, rose from her seat in protest at the moment Lavrov was speaking during the Regional Forum.
The focus on these two crises diluted what was expected to be the main issue of the Asean ministerial meeting: the crisis in which Burma has been mired since last year’s military coup and the efforts of the countries neighbors for contributing to a solution.
The nine member countries of Asean present at the summit – Burma was absent due to the exclusion of the military regime – expressed their “deep disappointment” due to the lack of progress of the military junta in the roadmap agreed upon more than a year ago to pacify the country.
The foreign ministers of the association postponed possible more drastic decisions for the leaders’ summit to be held in November, when the bloc will evaluate “progress towards the implementation of the five points of consensus” to raise give “new steps”, without giving further details.