ASEAN strengthens relations with China, sees Myanmar as ‘family’ – .

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ASEAN strengthens relations with China, sees Myanmar as ‘family’ – .


ASEAN BIMP-EAGA Virtual Summit attendees pose for a photo ahead of the meeting, hosted by ASEAN Summit, Brunei, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, October 28, 2021. ASEAN SUMMIT 2021 HOST PHOTO / Handout via REUTERS

  • Myanmar’s membership not in question, says Sultan
  • It is not known for how long the junta boss will be excluded – Malaysia
  • China’s strategic pact highlights growing rivalry

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Oct.28 (Reuters) – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Thursday announced that it has reached an agreement with China to transform its relationship into a comprehensive strategic partnership, a day after concluding a similar agreement with Australia.

Australia’s securing of the enhanced partnership was a symbolic victory for Canberra as it defeated China in the first such deal with the rapidly growing Southeast Asia region, which has become a strategic battleground. between Beijing and Washington.

Welcoming the deal at a press conference, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, president of ASEAN, was also asked about Myanmar’s future involvement after its junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, who led a coup in February, has been ruled out of Asian summits this week.

“Myanmar is an integral part of the ASEAN family and its membership has not been questioned,” he said. “ASEAN will always be there for Myanmar and we have continued to offer our assistance through the implementation of the Five Point Consensus. “

Min Aung Hlaing has been sidelined for his failure to abide by the pact, which he struck with ASEAN in April, pledging to end hostilities, begin dialogue and facilitate humanitarian aid. and the mediation efforts of an ASEAN special envoy.

“NON INTERFERENCE”

His sidelining was an unprecedented snub by a bloc criticized for decades for failing to end atrocities and hiding behind a long-standing code of non-interference. Myanmar was asked to send a non-political representative to the virtual summits, but the junta refused.

“For this meeting, we have left space for Myanmar while firmly defending the principles enshrined in the ASEAN charter, including that of non-interference,” said the Sultan.

Speaking at a separate press conference, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said it was not clear if Myanmar would join future ASEAN meetings and stressed that the no-show this week was Myanmar’s call.

When asked if he would continue to be a part of ASEAN events, Saifuddin Abdullah said: “This is the million dollar question that I cannot answer. “

Cambodia, president of ASEAN next year, will keep pressure on Myanmar to stick to its deal, Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn told Reuters on Thursday, warning that the country was at edge of civil war. Read more

Reporting from Ain Bandial to Bandar Seri Begawan and to A. Ananthalakshmi and Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur; Written by Martin Petty; Editing by James Pearson and Andrew Cawthorne

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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