0206 GMT December 01, 2022
Indonesia’s president vowed Sunday not to let Southeast Asia become the front lines of a new Cold War amid increasing tensions between the United States and China, saying as his country took over the chairmanship of the influential Association of Southeast Asian Nations that it would not become “a proxy to any powers.”
Joko Widodo said the 10-nation bloc with a combined population of some 700 million people “must be a dignified region” and “uphold the values of humanity and democracy” — principles that have been challenged by last year’s military takeover in Myanmar and concerns about human rights in Cambodia, according to AP.
“ASEAN must become a peaceful region and anchor for global stability, consistently uphold international law and not be a proxy to any powers,” he said. “ASEAN should not let the current geopolitical dynamic turn into a new Cold War in our region.”
Tensions between the U.S. and China over Taiwan have grown in recent months. China considers Taiwan as part of its territory and the U.S. military and diplomatic relations with the island have angered Beijing.
Also on Sunday, Russia's foreign minister accused the U.S. of driving increased militarization in Southeast Asia, saying that Washington was trying to contain Beijing and Moscow's influence in the region, according to AFP.
Sergei Lavrov was speaking to reporters at Phnom Penh's airport after attending the East Asia Summit – and before flying to Bali for the G20 summit where China's leader Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden will meet.
Washington is attempting to boost its influence in Southeast Asia.
Lavrov accused the U.S. of pushing the "militarization of this region, clearly aimed at containing China and limiting Russian interests in the region".