Tensions over Taiwanese developments clouded an Asian gathering of foreign ministers on Friday, drawing attention away from attempts to settle the Myanmar problem, among other topics.
Foreign ministers from the United States, China, Russia, Japan, and Australia attended a meeting sponsored by Southeast Asia’s regional grouping ASEAN.
However, diplomatic tensions have arisen as a result of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which prompted China to conduct major military drills in the Taiwan Strait, including the launch of live missiles around the self-ruled island it claims as part of its sovereign territory.
“There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press briefing on the sidelines of an ASEAN summit. “Now, they’ve taken dangerous acts to a new level.”
He stressed that Washington would not precipitate a crisis, but would continue to defend regional allies and undertake normal air and sea transit via the Taiwan Strait.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations urged for patience on Thursday, warning of the dangers of mistake and conflict among major nations.
On Friday, ASEAN ministers were joined by 27 foreign ministers for plenary sessions of the East Asia Summit and the biennial ASEAN Regional Forum security conference.
A participant in the room reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stormed out of a session on Friday when their Japanese colleague spoke.
Wang had canceled a meeting with Japan’s Yoshimasa Hayashi in Cambodia the day before, citing China’s anger with a G7 statement asking it to handle Taiwan tensions peacefully.
According to Reuters journalists, Wang came late for an ASEAN gala dinner on Thursday, then stormed out only seconds afterwards.