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Postponement of Blinken’s China journey a ‘pity’; ASEAN paying shut consideration to US-China relations: Vivian Balakrishnan

SINGAPORE: Overseas Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan stated on Saturday (Feb 4) that the postponement of a long-anticipated go to to China by United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken was a “pity” and expressed hope for each side to train restraint. 

Mr Blinken, who had been scheduled to depart for Beijing on Friday night time, postponed plans after a suspected Chinese language spy balloon was tracked flying throughout the US in what Washington known as a “clear violation” of the nation’s sovereignty. 
In the meantime, China expressed remorse that an “airship” used for civilian meteorological and different scientific functions had strayed into US airspace.

Chatting with reporters throughout a digital doorstop interview, Dr Balakrishnan stated the incident was a reminder that the world shouldn’t be in a settled and calm situation, including that many issues may nonetheless go unsuitable within the subsequent 12 months or two.

“It really illustrates how straightforward it’s for … surprising incidents to derail scheduled events for conferences and engagement,” he stated. 

“That is why ASEAN is paying such shut consideration to the very fraught relationship between the US and China.”

Urging each side to interact extra and have open strains of communication, he stated it will assist to scale back misunderstandings and the prospects of such incidents. 

“From a Southeast Asian perspective, not solely can we hope … that they obtain a modus vivendi but in addition we wish them to interact us on our personal deserves, and never by the prism of rivalry between the 2 superpowers,” stated Dr Balakrishnan.

“So our clear and constant message to each the US and China is that commerce and funding is strategic in Southeast Asia.”

Dr Balakrishnan was wrapping up his two-day working go to to Jakarta, Indonesia, the place he attended the 32nd ASEAN Coordinating Council Assembly and the ASEAN Overseas Ministers’ Retreat.


The worsening state of affairs in Myanmar dominated the assembly, regardless of an agenda centered on meals and vitality safety in addition to cooperation in finance and well being.

Since seizing energy in a coup two years in the past, Myanmar’s junta has plunged the nation into chaos and violence, whereas failing to implement an ASEAN peace plan, which incorporates the cessation of battle and the beginning of dialogue.

Myanmar was invited to Friday’s assembly however at a non-political degree. Nevertheless, no delegate was current. 

Whereas ASEAN members have totally different ranges of considerations concerning the state of affairs in Myanmar, Dr Balakrishnan stated the bloc stays “fully united” within the name for cessation of violence and nationwide reconciliation.

Throughout a working lunch on Friday, ASEAN overseas ministers mentioned and urged important progress within the implementation of 5-Level Consensus.

Indonesia – which chairs ASEAN this 12 months – stated it deliberate to interact stakeholders and construct conducive circumstances to pave the way in which for an inclusive dialogue with a view to carry a few peaceable decision in Myanmar.

It additionally stated it needed to synergise ASEAN efforts with neighbouring nations who’re involved concerning the state of affairs and the United Nations particular envoys of Myanmar, in addition to different nations. 

On Wednesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo stated his nation plans to ship a high basic to Myanmar to speak to its junta leaders within the hope of exhibiting Myanmar’s army rulers how Indonesia made a profitable transition to democracy.

“Crucial factor, really, is to cease the violence internally, to start the method of nationwide reconciliation – for everybody inside Myanmar to take a seat on the identical desk as equals and to have a honest dialogue,” stated Dr Balakrishnan.

“We are going to proceed to search for alternatives (to assist) however I have to emphasise, we do want the army authorities to cooperate on this course of as properly and it is an space of ongoing work.”


The ASEAN overseas ministers additionally reaffirmed the significance of working collectively to facilitate an inclusive post-pandemic restoration and advance ASEAN’s community-building efforts.

Dr Balakrishnan emphasised that Singapore will work with Indonesia and fellow ASEAN member states to create alternatives for Singaporeans and native companies within the digital, inexperienced, and blue economies, which refers back to the maritime setting. 

“What we’re concerned with is commerce and funding and we hope that every one our exterior companions – and by that I imply the US, China, Europe, and past – look to Southeast Asia as an enviornment they will make investments, they will commerce and in a non-binary, non-exclusive method as a result of our organising precept is overlapping circles of mates.”  

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