US Vice President Kamala Harris, Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met Thursday at the East Asia Summit, where the leader of Indonesia, who chairs the Asean, warned of growing rivalries between powers.
The summit brought senior officials from Washington and Beijing to the same table, a day after China's prime minister warned that major powers must contain their differences to avoid a "new Cold War."
The meeting in the Indonesian capital Jakarta brought together leaders from 18 countries, including those from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and major powers involved in the region.
Exchanges between officials of the world's two largest economies came under scrutiny amid tensions over issues ranging from Taiwan to relations with Moscow to rivalry in the Pacific, days before the G20 summit in New Delhi Saturday and Sunday.
“Every leader has an equal responsibility not to create conflicts, not to provoke new tensions, and at the same time (...) to reduce points of friction,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said after the summit.
“I can guarantee that if we are not able to manage our differences, we will be destroyed.”
Kamala Harris denounced at the summit "Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine", security challenges in the South China Sea and the threat of North Korean missiles, said Daniel Kritenbrink, the US deputy secretary of state. for East Asia to journalists.
But the summit's joint communiqué, seen by AFP, omitted any mention of the South China Sea, claimed largely by China, to the dismay of its neighbors, or the war in Ukraine.
A paragraph referring to this disputed maritime zone was deleted, a diplomat told AFP.
“China refused, but this text is negotiated. This is also why there is no paragraph on Ukraine, because Russia opposed it,” he indicated. under cover of anonymity.
Thursday's summit was also the first opportunity for senior American and Russian officials to meet, almost two months after a previous tense Asean meeting in July in Jakarta during which the West demanded accountability from Sergei Lavrov over the invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Minister on Thursday denounced the risk of a militarization of East Asia, accusing NATO of having the will to penetrate the region. He also warned against the Aukus military alliance between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, described as "conflictual", according to a press release from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attended the summit alongside ASEAN officials.
The South Korean leader said any unilateral attempt to change the status quo in the South China Sea was "unacceptable" and called for "a law-based maritime order" to regulate this strategic maritime zone for global trade.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos called on his partners to oppose the "dangerous use of the Coast Guard" and any vessels used by Chinese authorities, after several incidents with Chinese boats in recent months, according to a speech published by the palace.
On the sidelines of the summit, the Australian Prime Minister met his Chinese counterpart and confirmed that he would make an official visit to China "later this year", as Canberra works to warm up relations with Beijing.
Li Qiang said Beijing was ready to resume bilateral trade after several years of freezing, according to the state agency Xinhua.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed his summit partners, saying it was essential to "build a post-Covid world order based on law" and called for collective efforts towards a "space Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
During the ASEAN summit, organized earlier this week and dominated by the crisis in Burma, the leaders had denounced the attacks of the junta against civilians.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres denounced Thursday "the systematic repression" which undermines hopes of a return to democracy in Burma, represented by an empty chair at the summit.
“Brutal violence, growing poverty and systematic repression are shattering hopes for a return to democracy,” Mr. Guterres said.
07/09/2023 14:56:27 - Jakarta (AFP) - © 2023 AFP