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China warns of US plan to incite Ukraine-style 'tragedy' in Asia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (Photo by AP)

China has blasted the US for trying to incite Ukraine-like regional tensions in the Indo-Pacific, calling on his Vietnamese counterpart to join Beijing’s bid to promote “regional peace” in the face of American hostile efforts.

"The United States has tried to create regional tension and provoke confrontation by pushing forward the Indo-Pacific strategy," said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a telephone conversation with Vietnam’s Bui Thanh Son as quoted in a statement released by Beijing’s foreign ministry.

"This will seriously damage the hard-won peaceful development in the region and erode regional cooperation that has had ASEAN at its core,” Wang emphasized, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “We cannot let the Cold War mentality return to the region and the Ukraine tragedy to repeat around us."

Wang highlighted the significance of the contributions both countries can jointly make towards a regional peace, saying the Ukraine issue "has once again made Asian countries realize that maintaining peace and stability is precious and indulging in group confrontation will lead to endless risks."

The remarks come as the US and its European allies have exerted pressure on China over its refusal to refer to Russian military operation in Ukraine as “a war.”  Instead, Beijing has supported Russia's "reasonable security concerns" and blamed Washington and its allies in the US-led NATO military alliance for the conflict.

Vietnam also joined China and more than 30 other countries to abstain from voting on UN resolutions condemning Russia for its military operation in Ukraine and the growing humanitarian crisis there, largely escalated by a massive transfer of weapons to the country by US and its European allies.

Vietnam is being wooed by the US -- which has pledged to enhance its ties with Hanoi and others in the region -- as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy aimed at countering China.

According to the foreign ministry statement, Vietnam’s top diplomat also welcomed China's role in facilitating peace talks to end the conflict in Ukraine and pointed to the two countries’ identical position on the issue.

Beijing’s top diplomat further called for the early signing of a code of conduct for the South China Sea, where China has overlapping territorial claims with a number of Southeast Asian countries.

He also underlined that the situation in the South China Sea "remained generally stable with the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries" and accused "some forces outside of the region with ulterior motives" of wanting an unstable situation in the waterway.

Wang, meanwhile, has met in recent weeks with his counterparts from other ASEAN member nations, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar.

The diplomatic push comes ahead of a Southeast Asian tour by the US-allied Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida later in the month.

Kishida is expected to visit Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, in a mission aimed at expanding Tokyo’s cooperation with Kiev on the Ukraine conflict and "the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific amid China's rise," Japanese Kyodo news agency reported.

Taiwan vows deeper US ties after Beijing slams visit by US lawmakers

The development came as Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) reacted to China’s latest naval drills near the island territory after the latest visit by a group of American lawmakers, insisting that Chinese military threats against the US-allied island will only increase the backing of Washington and “other democracies.”

China declared on Friday that it conducted military drills around Taiwan, coinciding with a US Congressional delegation’s visit to the island, with Beijing blaming the visitors for the increasing tensions with their "provocative" trip.

The People's Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said in a statement that its military sent frigates, bombers, and fighter planes to the East China Sea and the area around Taiwan.

"This operation is in response to the recent frequent release of wrong signals by the United States on the Taiwan issue," it said, without mentioning the visiting American delegation.

"The US bad actions and tricks are completely futile and very dangerous. Those who play with fire will burn themselves," it added.

In a Friday statement, Taipei's Foreign Ministry censured Beijing’s "recalcitrant and ridiculous" reaction to the visit, the first by a group of US lawmakers this year.

Beijing blamed the US legislators, who included chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez, for the escalating tensions. China claims the island territory as its own.

Taiwan will continue to deepen cooperation with the United States and other like-minded countries to defend the free and open Indo-Pacific region, and prevent China's "continuous expansion", the ministry further emphasized.

The Biden administration has repeatedly boasted about its "rock-solid" commitment to the self-governed island, and although the US has no formal diplomatic ties with Taipei, it remains the island's most important international supporter and arms supplier.

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