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ASEAN, Japan, China, S. Korea agree to bolster financial cooperation

13 August 2017

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It seems, however, that Vietnam nearly put a spanner in the works by attempting to push its own agenda during the meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi cancelled a scheduled one-on-one meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart in Manila at the last minute on Monday due to a spat over the South China Sea, according to people familiar with the situation.

Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Monday urged East Asian countries to uphold a free and fair economic order amid protectionism to continue outshining the rest of the world. After their meeting, they issued a joint statement that blasted aggressive actions in the contested offshore territories - without, of course, naming Beijing directly, in line with diplomatic practice. The statement was finally issued on Sunday.

Susan Thornton, the top USA diplomat for Asia, said Beijing had historically cooperated with sanctions after flagrant North Korean violations but then slipped back over time.

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"We expect nations not to tell us what to do".

It strikes a similar note to other tough talk by Xi about China's territorial disputes with its neighbors, including in the South China Sea. Yesterday we all had a busy day.

On the occasion, he also thanked the bloc's partners, global organisations and friends for their cooperation and support for the ASEAN member states over the past time, expressing his wish that the Ambassadors and officials of the worldwide organisations would continue acting as an effective bridge for their countries and organisations and Vietnam and ASEAN.

China had always been perceived as delaying negotiations with ASEAN so it can undertake and complete construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea without being restricted by any maritime code.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says he urged his North Korean counterpart to abide by United Nations resolutions and stop provoking "the worldwide community's goodwill" with missile launches and nuclear tests.

State media in Vietnam said the ministers had held a "pull aside" meeting and exchanged views.

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"In this regard, I emphasized the importance of 2016 arbitral award and realize no militarization of disputed features", he said.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, which all have diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Tensions between the two countries burst into the open last November when Hong Kong port authorities impounded nine Singaporean armoured military vehicles being shipped home from training grounds in Taiwan.

The defense ministers agreed on a visit by a US aircraft carrier to Vietnam next year - the first such visit since the Vietnam War ended in 1975.

Signing China up to a legally binding and enforceable code for the strategic waterway has always been a goal for claimant members of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), some of which have sparred for years over what they see as China's disregard for their sovereign rights and its blocking of fishermen and energy exploration efforts.

At the ASEAN-plus-three meeting, the 13 countries also discussed how to address threats from North Korea.

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ASEAN, Japan, China, S. Korea agree to bolster financial cooperation