Analysis: Southeast Asia's response to U.S. provocations over Taiwan

During an official visit to China last week, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Taiwan question is China's internal affair and touting "Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow" will lead to unpredictable and serious consequences.

Lee's latest clear-cut support of Beijing on the Taiwan question came just days before a reportedly scheduled meeting between Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the United States.

Similar to a provocative visit to China's Taiwan region by his predecessor Nancy Pelosi last August, a McCarthy-Tsai meeting would be another provocation on the part of Washington that will seriously violate the one-China principle, undermine China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and damage the peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.

As a stakeholder in the region, what is Southeast Asia's response to Washington's provocation of China over the Taiwan question?

What did ASEAN say about Pelosi's visit?

Disregarding the Chinese side's stern warnings, Pelosi arrived in China's Taiwan region on August 2, 2022. Shortly after she landed on the island, China started a series of joint naval and air drills around the Taiwan Island.

According to preliminary statistics, in response to Pelosi's visit, over 170 countries, including the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and international organizations publicly stated their strong support for the one-China principle.

On August 3, during the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, ASEAN foreign ministers issued a statement on the cross-strait development, reiterating support for the one-China policy.

In addition, ASEAN countries, through statements of foreign ministries and spokespersons, publicly stressed that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory and opposed "Taiwan independence" and all attempts to create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan."

The national security advisor of the Philippines said in an interview that the Philippines abides by the one-China policy, which means that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.

Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said that Singapore has a clear and consistent one-China policy and is opposed to "Taiwan independence" and any unilateral moves to change the status quo. He stressed the need for stable China-U.S. relations, which are vital for peace and security.

Myanmar's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Pelosi's visit to Taiwan escalated tensions in the Taiwan Straits. Myanmar opposes any provocative actions causing instability in the region and attempts that aim to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

Spokesperson for the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said that Pelosi's visit to Taiwan could escalate confrontation between China and the U.S. If not managed well, it may lead to open conflict and disrupt peace and stability, including in the Taiwan Straits.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Laos released a statement reaffirming its consistent policy of supporting the one-China policy and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, opposing any intention aiming at creating a situation for "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan," and reiterating its firm support for the policy of China on national reunification by peaceful means.

Cambodian government spokesperson said in an interview that Pelosi's visit to Taiwan violated the one-China principle and was a provocative move that stirred trouble and could trigger other crises. The Cambodian government highly commended countermeasures taken by China.

The Malaysian prime minister's special envoy to China released a statement urging Western nations not to practice double standards by trying to compare Taiwan with Ukraine. It urged not to try to encircle Russia and call for respect for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity on one hand and meddle in China's internal affairs and intend to use Taiwan to divide China on the other.

Singaporean scholar Kishore Mahbubani said that Pelosi's visit to Taiwan was reckless, dangerous and irresponsible, and that she was trying to use Taiwan. She fanned the flames in the neighborhood, but refused to bear responsibility for the dangerous consequences she single-handedly created, which should be condemned, said Mahbubani.

Moreover, think tanks also pointed out that Pelosi's move on the Taiwan question leads the U.S. and the world to disorder and instability.

'Lessons from past ignored'

McCarthy's office said on Monday that the top Republican from California would meet Tsai at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library just outside Los Angeles on Wednesday.

The U.S. House speaker disregards the the international community's widespread support for the one-China principle and ignores the lessons learned from the past, said the Chinese consulate general in Los Angeles in a statement.

By insisting on playing the "Taiwan card," the same mistake will be repeated, it warned.

China has also accused the United States, which claims to uphold the one-China policy, of using the "salami tactic" to distort, falsify, obscure and hollow out the one-China principle.

Years ago, Singapore's late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said in his book "One Man's View of the World" that China's reunification was just a matter of time.

"Reunification between Taiwan and the Mainland is a matter of time. No country can prevent it."

(Cover: File photo of ASEAN flags. /China Media Group)

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