Asean wants US, China to cool tensions, which are hurting global economy: Vivian Balakrishnan

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PHNOM PENH - Asean countries want temperatures between the United States and China to come down, especially with military manoeuvres in the region bringinga real risk of accidents and miscalculations, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

Both sides are not looking for conflict, but the situation now is dangerous for the region, he warned, underscoring how important it was for South-east Asia that the two superpowers get along.

Dr Balakrishnan was speaking to Singapore reporters on Friday (Aug 5) at the close of the 55th Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh, where ministers from the grouping also met their counterparts from key partners, including China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Dr Balakrishnan said during these talks, he observed that both sides were not looking for conflict.

Recounting his conversation with Mr Wang on Thursday, Dr Balakrishnan said he conveyed that "the main danger is you've got a lot of ships and planes and missiles massed around there".

"Even though I know you don't want to go to war, there is a danger of accidents and miscalculations. So for what it's worth, we've made the appeal that for the rest of us in South-east Asia - we actually want temperatures to come down."

China embarked on its largest ever live-firing military drill in the waters around Taiwan following a controversial visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan on Tuesday (Aug 2) and Wednesday.

Her visit has angered China, who on Friday announced that it would suspend cooperation with the US on a range of issues, including talks on climate change.

Dr Balakrishnan, who met Mrs Pelosi when she visited Singapore on Monday, noted that although her visit to Taiwan was not the first by a US House Speaker, it did take place at a very politically sensitive time for both China and the US.

This has contributed to raising the temperature and tensions on the ground, he added.

He said he understood why both sides had to take a stand, for political reasons.

China takes the visit "very seriously", noted Dr Balakrishnan. "They've couched it in terms of territorial integrity, sovereignty. And you know, once you get into that, you actually have to take a very, very strong stand, which is what we are witnessing right now."

The breaking down of the relationship between the US and China means the potential end of a p...

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