Tuesday, 20 Oct 2020

South China Sea: Beijing joins new negotiations in bid to prevent all out war

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According to Teodoro Locsin, foreign affairs secretary for the Philippines, the talks will take place no later than November. Mr Locsin made the announcement during a virtual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The talks will take place between China and the ASEAN, with a number of ASEAN members disputing China’s claim over the South China Sea.

The ten countries which make up the ASEAN include regional powers Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea is disputed by six of its neighbours.

In a bid to strengthen their claim China has been constructing military bases, including airstrips, on islands in the disputed region.

The United States, and other western powers, have been sending warships on “freedom of navigation” patrols through the South China Sea to signal they dispute Beijing’s claim.

According to Mr Locsin the latest round of talks will take place face-to-face.

They were due to be held earlier in the year but this was pushed back because of the coronavirus crisis.

The sessions will be hosted by Vietnam, which is chairing the ASEAN this year.

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Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc warned the dispute threatens regional peace.

Speaking during the ASEAN meeting he said: “The regional geo-political and geo-economic landscape, including the South China Sea, are witnessing growing volatilities that are detrimental to peace and stability.”

India is also locked in a fierce territorial dispute with China over their respective borders.

In June 20 Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand which took place in the contested Galwan Valley.

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A number of Chinese troops also reportedly died though Beijing has not released an exact figure.

The two sides fought with metal bars, clubs wrapped with barbed wire and rocks as guns are banned near the border.

Many of the Indian troops killed either drowned or died of exposure after being injured.

Following the violence India banned a number of Indian mobile apps, including viral video sharing site TikTok, on national security grounds.

India has also deployed warships to the contested South China Sea.

In response Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party controlled publication, published an interview with naval expert Li Jie warned India not to undermine Chinese sovereignty.

He said: “If the Indian vessel takes any actions to undermine China’s maritime rights or challenge China’s territorial sovereignty, China must expel it or even resort to reasonable collisions.

“Should the Indian warship further escalate actions, China will have to make contingency plans and deal with it effectively.”

Earlier this year Beijing imposed a new security law on Hong Kong, a former British colony, stripping the city of much of its autonomy.

In response Britain said Hong Kong residents entitled to British Overseas Passports, which includes all those born in the territory before 1997, would have the right to stay in the UK for an extended period of time with a route available to full citizenship.

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